Kepler 16 DSC6017
7 Hikes in 7 Days
Runner on the Kepler Track - Graham Dainty

Lace up your boots and get ready for seven days of epic hiking in Fiordland. If you love a challenge, this is the Fiordland itinerary for you.

te anau 04558 Martin Sliva
DAY 1: TE ANAU - BASE CAMP
Te Anau Wharf - Martin Sliva

Arrive in Te Anau and visit the Department of Conservation (DOC) to check weather, track conditions and maps. Head to one of the supermarkets in town to stock up on supplies or purchase any last-minute gear at the outdoor stores.

A gentle walk today, in preparation for some more challenging walks over the coming days. Start from town and walk towards Punanga Manu O Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary to see the rare, flightless takahē and continue walking to the Control Gates near the Kepler Track if you’re keen. Another option is to begin walking at the Control Gates and follow the beautiful Lake2Lake Cycle Trail along the Waiau River The track will take you all the way to Manapouri if you’re up for a challenge.

Enjoy a meal out in Te Anau and get an early night ready for your first big hike tomorrow.

Kepler Track View From Ridgeline Daniel Deans 112643
Day 2: LUXMORE HUT, KEPLER TRACK
Kepler Track View - Daniel Deans

The Kepler Track is the closest Great Walk to Te Anau and home of the world-famous Kids Restore the Kepler Programme. The first section of the track traverses through an easy and mostly flat stretch of track. Enjoy tiny moss, lichen, punga fern forests and sandy cove beaches before heading into mighty beech forest and limestone bluffs as you make your way up Mt Luxmore.

There are four ways you can hike this section of the Kepler Track:

·   Walk from your accommodation in Te Anau to the Control Gates car park where you can join the Kepler Track. From this point, it is a 9 - 10-hour return hike to the Luxmore Hut.

·   Drive to the Control Gates car park (5 minutes’ drive from Te Anau) and join the Kepler Track. From this point, it is an 8-hour return hike to the Luxmore Hut.

·   Catch the Kepler Water Taxi from the wharf in Te Anau to Brod Bay. The water taxi runs a trip in the afternoon to get you back to Te Anau. From Brod Bay, it is approximately 6 hours return to Luxmore Hut.

·   Take a helicopter flight straight to the Luxmore Hut and skip the hard work. Enjoy spectacular views of Fiordland and then enjoy an easy walk back down.  It will take approximately 3-4 hours to walk back to Brod Bay or 4-5 hours to the Control Gates car park.

Top tip: The more time you have at the hut the better. Capture a photo to remember from Mt Luxmore overlooking South Fiord (one of the only inland fiords in the country), visit the nearby limestone caves (take a torch), or enjoy an alpine picnic spot unlike anything else.

Return to Te Anau for a well-earned drink and dinner in town. You may be lucky enough to watch the sunset over the mountains signalling the end of your first day of hiking completed.

Jessica image key summit
DAY THREE: KEY SUMMIT, ROUTEBURN TRACK
Key Summit - Easy Hike

Today, the hiking is a little easier than yesterday’s, but will still bring a huge reward. Get an early start as the access to the Routeburn Track is found at the Divide car park off the Milford Road. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to drive from Te Anau to the Divide car park.

Your hike begins on the Routeburn Track. It is clearly signed and you will follow the track until you see the turn-off to Key Summit. The Key Summit Track is a loop track which takes around 3 hours to complete. The track offers impressive views of Fiordland’s dramatic ranges and snowy peaks as well as Lake Marian.

Return to your car via the first section of the Routeburn Track. If you are still feeling energetic, pull in to Lake Gunn Nature Walk along the Milford Road. The walk takes around 45 minutes and takes you through an impressive example of native tawhairaunui forest.

Head back to Te Anau for a nourishing meal and good night’s rest.

Lake Marian Fiordland
DAY FOUR: LAKE MARIAN AND OVERNIGHT IN MILFORD SOUND
Lake Marian - Anja Kohler

It’s another early start today as you head to the beautiful Lake Marian. This alpine lake, found in a hanging valley formed by glacial action, is renowned as one of the most picturesque settings in Fiordland. Today, pack an extra special picnic and allow plenty of time to soak in a remarkable location.

The track begins near the Hollyford Road, off the Milford Road. From Te Anau it will take approximately 1hr 45mins to drive to Marian’s Corner, the turn-off to the Hollyford Road. Park in the Lake Marian car park and cross the swing bridge to start the hike.

Within minutes, you will start to hear the sound of water falling from above as you approach a beautiful series of waterfalls. After this, the track becomes steep and can be muddy underfoot for the next 1.5 hours. The forest opens up to a mesmerising glacial lake at the bottom of an impressive valley. This walk will take around 3 hours to complete, but don’t forget to leave time for a picnic lunch.

Rather than return to Te Anau, spend the night in Milford Sound and enjoy the unique experience of Milford Sound by night. Milford Sound Lodge is Milford Sound’s only accommodation and offers a rainforest campervan site or boutique chalets. Milford Sound Lodge offers a restaurant, kitchen and guest laundry.

Lake Marian, Gertrude Valley and Key Summit tracks can be walked with a guide. This is a great option if you want to learn more about the flora, fauna or history of the area as you go.

Mt Cook Lily DAINTY v2
DAY FIVE: GERTRUDE SADDLE
Mt Cook Buttercup - Graham Dainty

Before heading off today, take a moment to enjoy the morning stillness of Milford Sound. During the day Milford Sound is abuzz with visitors on cruise boats and scenic flights, but in the morning it is at its most still. 

Today’s walk is a challenging hike to Gertrude Saddle. It is a challenging route requiring tramping and alpine experience and is not recommended in winter due to avalanche danger.

Drive to the Homer Hut car park on the Milford Road and prepare for the day ahead. Before you set off, look up and marvel at the impressive Darren Mountains before you. This impressive granite range is popular with climbers, you may spot a few on its sheer cliffsides.

From the car park, the track is marked and will take you on a gentle walk through the valley. At the head of the valley, the route leads up towards the saddle where you can cross the Gertrude Stream below a large, steep waterfall area.

From here, the track becomes steep and challenging and is only suitable for experienced alpine hikers. The track traverses steep rock slabs and is treacherous when wet or frosty - there are steel cables to assist you. From the head of the valley continue up through the boulders to the Gertrude Saddle. 

Take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy the view of the valley below and glimpses of Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. This track provides excellent access to the mountains for experienced climbers.

The track should take experienced hikers around 6 hours return. Return along the same route to the car park.

Head back to Te Anau for a well-deserved rest, a hearty meal and to stock up on supplies.

MIlford Track RJs
DAY SIX: GLADE HOUSE, MILFORD TRACK
The Clinton River - credit Real Journeys

If you’re not able to do the 4-day Milford Track hike, this walk is the perfect taster for the world-famous hike. This walk will take you along the first section of the Milford Track and involves catching the Milford Water Taxi across the lake.

Drive 20 minutes north of Te Anau to Te Anau Downs where you will find a large car park near the wharf. A water taxi will transfer you across Lake Te Anau to Glade Wharf (approximately 50 minutes). After a short walk you will arrive at the historic Glade House, continue along the track following the beautiful gin-clear Clinton River. This is a flat and well-maintained section of track and is suitable for all levels of fitness and ability. Take a short sign-posted side trip to the wetland and enjoy the 360-degree mountain vistas. Further along the track you will arrive at the DOC Clinton Hut or find yourself a warm rock beside the river for a picnic and for the brave, a quick dip before heading back to meet your water taxi.

Top tip: Walk up the Glade Burn Track for a gorgeous view of Lake Te Anau on the return to Glade Wharf.

Lake Manapouri Onesimus Photography v2
DAY SEVEN: MOTORAU HUT, KEPLER TRACK
View from Motorau Hut - Onesimus Photography

Start from Rainbow Reach Swing Bridge, a 15-minute drive from Te Anau and turn left after you have crossed the bridge. 

This is a relatively easy 2-hour walk one way through beach forest and mossy carpets, your typical Fiordland forest. The views overlooking Lake Manapouri in all her glory when you arrive at Shallow Bay or Motorau Hut (the last hut on the Kepler Track) are not to be missed. A great family walk or overnight stay.

Top Tip: Combine this walk with cycling the Lake2Lake cycle trail or a jet boat ride.