Frequently Asked Questions
We have assembled the following list of frequently asked questions. Feel free to contact us if you can not find the answers to your queries.
What do we need to take?
Well this depends a little on the package you are doing. For a comprehensive “What to Bring” page click here. Many people have their own favourites and it does depend a little on the type of package you choose. On a Guided Walk for example you need only carry your own personal belongings. On a Freedom Walk you need to carry pretty much everything … apart from the kitchen sink of course.
What is the weather going to be like?
Hmmm interesting question. Four Seasons in One Day… well that’s how New Zealand’s favourite son Neil Finn described it in one of his songs!
Fiordland being as it is there is most probably a heavy rain warning due or just been. But don’t worry, they come and go pretty quick …. usually.
This can all change on the tops of some of the alpine tracks ( Milford, Kepler, Dusky etc) and yes we can get snow up there pretty much any time of the year … golden rule be prepared for anything then when it is fine and sunny it will be even more of a surprise!
Towering mountains and storms swept off the southern ocean means that the weather can change very rapidly. Snow, high winds and rain can occur at any time of the year. It is very important to be prepared for the worst weather conditions, and carry the appropriate clothing at all times. Summer daytime temperatures will range from about 10 to 20 degrees Celsius and night time wont get much colder than 5.
In summer months the temperature average is around 20 degrees Celsius. Evenings can be a little cooler but many of the huts and lodges have heating. Sub alpine huts will be about 5 degrees Celsius cooler than lower level huts. Snow can occur at any time of the year.
Will I be fit enough?
You will enjoy your hike a lot more if you are well prepared. You need to be able to carry a medium sized backpack for 4-8 hours over 10-21km each day. On some tracks there are extended climbs that can be quite steep. On others there can be some descents that can be quite steep. We encourage you to set your own pace while walking the track, there is no need to keep up with the fastest walkers. On guided walks there is always a guide at the back of the party.
The track surface varies from natural tracks, boardwalk with steps, old tramlines and rough terrain broken up by rocks and tree roots. We recommend you wear hiking boots, which provide firm ankle support on the more challenging tracks.
If you are not a regular walker, we suggest you begin a daily walk regime at least 6-8 weeks before your departure. Some practice carrying a pack and uphill and downhill walking during this time will make you even better prepared for your walk.
Do I have to carry my pack or can I transport it?
On the Hump Ridge and Waitutu our helipacking service means you only carry a light day pack. On the other tracks you carry your own pack from lodge to lodge.
How heavy is my pack?
On a guided walk your pack is likely to be 6 – 8 kg. On the On the Hump Ridge and Waitutu tracks you need only carry a small day pack.
For Freedom Walk and Freedom Plus your pack is likely to be 8 – 12 kg depending on which track you are doing. Freedom Plus on the Hump Ridge includes helipacking so you need only carry a small day pack.
I’ve heard about “sandflies”?
Yes we do have sandflies in many parts of Fiordland and Stewart Island but we will save the stories for when you get here. In the bush they are not so bad, and in cold or windy weather you are fine.
However we recommend you do wear insect repellent each day.
Where should I leave my excess baggage while I’m walking?
Generally you will be able to leave any excess luggage in safe keeping at the beginning of your trip at the hotels/motels where you are staying. If you do not finish where you start we can arrange for luggage to be forwarded to your destination.
Is there somewhere secure to leave our vehicle?
Generally the hotels/motels where you are staying will store you vehicle while you are walking if you are staying on your return. We will confirm this with your accommodation.
In some places we recommend taking public transport rather than leaving a vehicle in a remote area. Never leave valuables ( passport, cameras etc.) in your vehicle…it is not worth the drama.
What about our rental car / campervan?
If you would like to return your vehicle we can arrange a shuttle from the nearest depot. Sometimes on long term rental packages it is just as cheap to “hang on” to it.
Can I have a shower on the trail?
On the Guided Walks yes. If you take a Freedom Plus package on the Hump Ridge or Waitutu walks yes. Otherwise sorry it’s a wash with a wet flannel.
Can I wash my clothes?
Most of the Guided Walk lodges have hand washing facilities with soap powder and drying rooms so yes. Public DOC huts generally have a limited water supply and no separate basins so no.
I am a dairy intolerant vegan. Is this a problem?
Vegetarian, vegan or other special dietary requirements are catered for on Guided Walks. Otherwise it’s up to you to provide food for your hike.
How many people share the bunkrooms?
Bunkrooms sleep 4 – 6 people with shared bathroom facilities. Private rooms are available on some of the tracks. Public DOC huts often have larger open plan bunk rooms.
Is it OK to travel by myself?
No problem if you are doing a Guided Walk. Otherwise we would not recommend undertaking any of these walks alone.
Are there toilets on the tracks?
Many of the lodges have flush toilets. Public DOC huts provide Kiwi long drop style! Many of the shelters along the tracks also have toilets.
When is the best time of year to walk?
Depends on your interests. Most walking is done from November to April. Some of the tracks are also nice to walk in Winter. Peak periods are Christmas / New Year, Labour weekend and Easter. Some of the popular tracks are busy all summer season.
In November and December the mountain flowers are just coming out and there is still snow on the surrounding mountains. Great visuals for the keen photographers. Generally January and February are warmer – not necessarily dryer. March is more settled – fresh mornings, sunny days and crisp cooler nights. The days are getting shorter.
Is there electricity in the huts?
Guided Walk lodges are run on solar and or generator power. Public DOC huts have no power. We recommend you bring your own small torch or headlamp.