Huge rush expected after Milford, Routeburn Tracks repaired

7:47 am on 1 August 2020

Two Fiordland Great Walks that were severely damaged by flooding and landslips will fully reopen this summer.

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A hiker on a section of the Milford Track. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Conservation has confirmed bookings for the Milford and Routeburn Tracks will open next month for the upcoming walking season.

The tracks, bridges, campsites and huts were extensively damaged when the region received one tenth of its average annual rainfall over three days in February.

In total, 440 kilometres of tracks were damaged across Fiordland and key infrastructure was wiped out.

More than $13 million was allocated from the Budget to repair them and they have been partially reopened.

DOC southern South Island operations director Aaron Fleming said a huge amount of work has gone into getting them ready for summer.

"This summer looks to be a perfect opportunity for Kiwis to get out and explore our own backyards on these and the many other fantastic tracks we have around the country - and the communities that support them," he said.

"The Milford and Routeburn Tracks are internationally regarded as some of the best hiking experiences in the world. Bookings typically fill up very quickly - particularly over the peak summer weeks.

Howden Hut on the Routeburn will not open or be available to book this summer.

"Walkers will need to plan to tramp all the way out to the Divide near the Milford Road or vice versa to Lake MacKenzie heading towards Glenorchy."

Otherwise, walkers could expect some minor repairs when the season starts up, he said.

"We know people are really keen to get back out there, so last season we offered alternatives; the Milford Mackinnon Experience and Routeburn Return which gave users the opportunity to experience parts of these iconic tracks while avoiding the areas with the most damage," Fleming said.

"With repairs making great progress, we're in the very happy position of being able to offer both tracks as the full through experiences this summer once more."

A view from the Routeburn track.

A view from the Routeburn Track. Photo: WikiCommons

Before hikers get too keen and head out early, they do need to heed current warnings.

The Milford Track will open on 30 November with the Routeburn opening a week later on 7 December.

"If the booking figures for the other Great Walks, which had a record opening week are anything to go by, we're expecting to again see huge demand for these tracks heading into the summer season," Fleming said.

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