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Iconic Milford Sound track reopens

One of New Zealand’s premier hikes and a cornerstone of the Te Anau community, the Milford Track has officially reopened,

“From today, November 30, hikers booked on the popular Great Walk will be able to complete the walk end-to-end for the first time since early February,” Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.

“The reopening is a milestone in the flood recovery work taking place in the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring national park areas.

“Having the Milford Track officially reopen for this year’s Great Walk season is testament to the hard work achieved by both the Department of Conservation and the many contractors involved in the rebuild work.

“Like many places in Aotearoa, the Te Anau community has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 tourism downturn, and coupled with the flood damage to key recreation experiences in the area they’ve had an extremely difficult year.”

The Milford Track, along with the nearby Routeburn Track were among the 78 tracks damaged when a three day storm saw one tenth of the region’s average annual rainfall dump on northern Fiordland between February 4 – 6.

This sparked a major search and rescue operation, damaged 440 km of tracks and wiped out key infrastructure including parts of the Milford Road, while Lake Howden Hut on the Routeburn track was hit by a landslide in the middle of the night.

“Completing repairs and getting this iconic track back up and running has been a priority for DOC to support the local community and show the area is open and welcoming visitors this summer season,” Allan says.

$13.7million was announced in Budget 2020 to go towards repairing vital conservation and visitor infrastructure destroyed in the February flood.

The Milford Track is a world-renowned feature of Te WƒÅhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area and is called the “finest walk in the world”. The track retraces the steps of early explorers from the head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

Every year demand for a place on the iconic track is high. This year, when bookings for the summer season opened, it sold out completely within an hour.

“The Milford Track is truly a bucket list experience for people around the world, but it’s by no means the only track Fiordland has to offer,” Allan says.

“This summer is a great time for Kiwis to connect with their heritage and explore the thousands of incredible nature-based experiences around Aotearoa and support local communities everywhere.

“Plan ahead, let someone know before you go, check the weather and track conditions and make sure you take the necessary food, water, clothing and equipment and have fun exploring your own backyard.”

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