Stroll on into Te Anau, ‘The Walking Capital of New Zealand’, and set out on our best-planned Great Walk, which starts right on the edge of town.
The 67 km Kepler Track is the perfect complement to its near neighbours, the Milford and Routeburn tracks. It combines all the best archetypal Fiordland features such as moss-draped beech forest, rich bird life, alpine tussock, mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, glacial valleys, river flats and limestone formations. Bookings are essential in the October-April walking season. From May the track reverts to the Backcountry Hut ticket system. Camping is only permitted at Brod Bay and near the Iris Burn Hut.
This 3 to 4 day tramp starts by hugging the southern shore of Lake Te Anau as far as the Waiau River Control Gates. From there it is an easy walk to Brod Bay before tackling the 4 hour ascent to Mt Luxmore Hut. On Day 2 there is an option to explore the limestone caves on Mt Luxmore, and climb to the summit (1,471 metres) for a 360′ panorama of Lake Te Anau and the Murchison Range. The native takahe bird was found in this range in 1948 after years of presumed extinction. From Mt Luxmore the track crosses an exposed alpine ridge for 12 km before descending through beech forest to the Iris Burn Hut.
On Day 3 the track winds down an ancient glacial valley to Moturau Hut on the shores of Lake Manapouri, from where it is a 2 hour tramp to the Rainbow Reach exit. A regular shuttle service operates here in summer. Alternatively you can continue up the Waiau River to the Control Gates and back to Te Anau.
The Kepler Track is unique in its recent custom-made design as a round trip route. Other New Zealand tracks evolved from Maori trails or pioneer exploration routes.