Walk amongst the majesty of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana / The Southern Alps
**The Routeburn Track is open following necessary repair work after the Feb 2020 floods. Note the Lake Howden Hut has been removed.**
Half away along the Milford road, is the starting point (or end point) of one of New Zealand’s most famous Great Walks. The Routeburn Track is a spectacular alpine walk which can be walked in either direction from The Divide (off the Milford Road) or the Routeburn Shelter near Glenorchy. The track also connects with the Greenstone or Caples Track to make a circuit. The Routeburn Track also offers great options for day walks - guided or independent.
The full Routeburn Track is 31km long (19 miles) and is a 3-day walk offering hikers an ever-changing panorama of snow-capped peaks, sparkling alpine lakes, immense valleys and the Routeburn River. Highlights of the Routeburn Track include views of Mt Tutuko, Fiordland’s highest peak and the view from the track’s highest point, Harris Saddle, at 1,255 metres (4,117 feet) above sea level.
The stunning kōtukutuku (tree fuschia) is hard to miss along the Key Summit to Divide section of the track. Reaching heights of 12 metres, kōtukutuku is popular with local birds like tui, silvereyes and bellbirds and has an interesting orange coloured paper bark.
The Routeburn Track can be undertaken as a guided walk or independently. Guided walkers stay in private huts while independent walkers stay in Department of Conservation (DOC) huts or tents. As the track is not a circuit, independent walkers will need to arrange a bus or a transfer service once they finish the walk.
While the Routeburn Track is revered as a Great Walk, it is also easy to tackle parts of the track as a day walk. A popular walk is the three-hour return Key Summit Track which starts from the Divide car park. Many keen walkers include this hike as part of a Piopiotahi / Milford Sound road trip.
HOW TO WALK THE ROUTEBURN TRACK
The Routeburn Track is a popular multi-day hike which is often undertaken by walkers of moderate ability. The track is well marked but because of some steep and high sections is prone to muddy and slippery sections. Poor weather conditions can make this walk challenging, even in the Great Walks season.
There are a number of ways to experience the Routeburn Track. It is possible to walk between The Divide and The Routeburn shelter which takes 3 days and two nights. Another option is to walk into either the Routeburn Falls Hut or the Lake Mackenzie Hut to spend the night then return the same way. It is also possible to spend two nights at one of the huts and take your time exploring.
The full track covers a distance of 36 kilometres (22 miles) and is usually done in three days and two nights.
IMPORTANT ROUTEBURN TRACK INFORMATION
The track is open for independent walkers and guided walks during the Great Walks season (late October to late April) and walkers should always check the weather conditions.
The Routeburn Track must be pre-booked during the Great Walks season. You can book a bed in a hut or a tent-site at one of the two campsites on the track (Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie). During the winter months (May to October) the track remains open, but with reduced facilities and additional safety risks associated with avalanche danger in the alpine section to consider.
During the Great Walks season, huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water and a DOC ranger in residence. Campsites offer basic facilities including toilets, sinks and a water supply. Bookings are essential.
Fiordland's weather is highly changeable, and unprepared walkers may find themselves facing severe weather, snow-covered alpine passes, ice and slips on the track. Contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre before you walk out of season and always check weather conditions.
FAQs about the Routeburn Track
How hard is the Routeburn Track?
The Routeburn Track is a multi-day hike that requires a good level of fitness and preparation.
How long is the Routeburn Track?
Where does the Routeburn Track start?
Where is Routeburn Track?
The Routeburn Track traverses through Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks in the southwest South Island of New Zealand