All Milford Huts are Full - What Do I Do?!
As New Zealand’s #1 must-see attraction, Milford is annually filled with travelers looking to experience its beauty. During off-season, accommodation is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, but during the peak season (aka the Great Walk season), huts must be booked in advance. With only 40 independent walkers permitted to start the track each day, spots are extremely limited.
A few moments after DOC opens its gates for online booking, thousands of people storm the website to book the track. Naturally, many people are left unable to book the track, but not all hope is lost. Here are the best ways to handle fully booked huts:
1. A one-day Milford Sound trip
While nothing can compete with the experience of hiking the Milford Track, driving from Queenstown to Milford Sound (288km) is a great way to take in the breathtaking scenery of Milford Sound. Drive along beautiful lakes, waterfalls, valleys, southern farmlands, mountain ranges, and much more. When you arrive, you can take a break, explore the area by foot, by car or by a cruise (just make sure to book cruise tickets in advance). If you do not want to handle driving and logistics, you can book more luxurious yet comfortable guided tours.
2. Another Great Walk
Milford Sounds is the most famous fiord scenery in New Zealand, but there are 9 more Great Walks (New Zealand’s premier tracks) for you to choose from:
- South Island:
- Abel Tasman – the most popular track
- Heaphy Track – the longest walking track
- Routeburn Track – the shortest walking track
- Kepler Track
- Paparoa Track
- North Island:
- Lake Waikaremoana
- Tongariro Northern Circuit
- Whanganui Journey - a kayak voyage in NZ’s longest navigale river
- Stewart Island:
- Rakiura Track
3. Check for cancelations on the DOC website
You have your mind set up on the Milford Track and you do not want to miss out. I get that. One thing you can do is to constantly check the DOC website for booking cancelations. It is not that rare; people cancel their booking surprisingly often. The challenge is to be there as it happens. With thousands of people trying to book their place every day, your chances of finding and booking a hut before someone else take it are not promising. You can set up a reminder on your phone calendar to check the DOC website a few times a day and you just might beat the odds.
4. Set up a booking notification service to check for cancelations
The easiest way to book the Milford Track even if all huts are currently full. Sign up to an automatic availability tracker that scans in real time the booking status of all huts, and lets you know as soon as one becomes available on your requested dates. You can choose whether you prefer to be notified via email or text message, so you can immediately book your hut on the DOC website. The tracker works for each of New Zealand’s Great Walks.