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What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Waterloo, Canada
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128 posts
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What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

So, it seems that booking huts 6 months in advance is still not long enough to get a spot at the huts on the Milford Track. We are visiting NZ the first three weeks in January and there are no huts available. As there is no camping allowed on the track, is there ANY other way of doing this track without sleeping in huts? It seems that the next available date is well into February and we will be long gone by then.

Planning for this trip is proving to be the most frustrating experience, and I'm an experienced traveler.

Thank you for any help and suggestions.

Waterloo, Canada
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128 posts
601 reviews
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1. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Sorry, I should mention that the guided tour with Ultimate Hikes is way out of our price range, so that option is not viable.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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2. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

No there isn't. Look at the Routeburn as an alternative. It is still stunning, and many people say just as good/better than the MIlford. You are visiting NZ at peak season for NZers to do the Milford, hence why there is no availability.

Waterloo, Canada
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3. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Thanks very much. Yes, I was afraid as much. I thought 6 months ahead would be long enough time, but I will know better for next time :)

San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Could always look at Kepler or Rees/Dart + Cascade Saddle as a replacement for Milford.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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5. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

The Routeburn is a better replacement than the Keplar. The Rees/Dart is great, but more time is needed.

A very nice track that is often overlooked is the Hollyford. This would easily combine with the Routeburn. You could even do a day walk as far as the first hut - Hidden Falls. It's 18km return, but the walking is very easy, and the track an excellent standard. This track follows the Hollyford River - which starts up by the Homer Tunnel. It is a valley walk - so no big passes or getting high up - but tracks a beautiful river, has two lakes, and ends up at the sea (beautiful estuary and even a seal colony). It also has some of the most beautiful forest easily accessible in Fiordland. The track is fantastic as far as the second hut )Alabaster) as it is also used by a guided company on that stretch. After that it is more of a regular NZ tramping track. It is very doable to go to Hidden Falls (9km/2-3hours) on Day 1, to Alabaster (9.5km) on Day 2, then all the way out (19km) on Day 3. We did this with a 3 year old and two 6 year olds and they handled it fine.

I thnikn your first choice should be the Routeburn though.

Waterloo, Canada
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6. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

great, thank you for the Hollyford suggestion, will definitely look into it

Wanaka, New Zealand
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7. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Just be aware that on the Hollyford, you stay in the valley. You can still see the mountains around you, but it isn't an alpine track like the others. The river is COLD, but beautiful for swimming. Even an overnight in to the first hut (the second hut Alabaster is even better) as a combination with the Routeburn would give you the best of both worlds. Huts can't be booked on the Hollyford. We did this track at Christmas/New Year a couple of years ago, and only one of the smaller huts came close to being full.

Christchurch, New...
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for South Island
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8. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

None of these tracks have unlimited capacity. The best idea is to walk fast, get there first. Dump your pack on a bunk and backtrack.

Nelson-Tasman...
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9. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

You still need to book huts on the routeburn as well. Need to get in early.

they do also have campsites.

Edited: 06 September 2013, 07:20
Wanaka, New Zealand
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10. Re: What to do if Milford Track huts not available?

Mike, that may be so on the 'big tracks' (Routeburn & Kepler) , but those such as the Hollyford don't really need such a strategy. We tranped as a fmily of 5 - with kids - and still always managedtot get 5 beds together in the hut. I thought that it might be an issue NY Eve, but even then we got our pick of the beds - and we weren't super speedy walkers.