Routeburn Track - walk the entire track in 2 days?

Really it's whatever works with you. However in our opinion the best way to walk the Routeburn Track in two days is to start at the Divide.

Easyhike helps thousands of people walk the Milford Track, Kepler Track, and Routeburn Track each summer. Walkers from all over the world (and also from right here in our very own backyard) need a helping hand with a variety of problems big and small, and we assist.

Sometimes they want the best solution to suit their plans, other times it’s assistance with the ideal transport arrangement. Some people are looking for a hassle free planning solution – they would love to turn up, grab our gear and go – spending time enjoying New Zealand rather than collecting food and equipment.

More often than not we find people are trying to squeeze as much as possible into the time they have here. We all know this is not always a good thing. It’s great to be able to relax a little and spend extra time in your favourite places if you can. However, in reality many of us are on a deadline and the less ‘wasted’ time during our trip, the better. That's the world we live in. 


At Easyhike we do our best to assist with short walks and tight deadlines where we can. The most common/traditional time frame to walk the entire 32km Routeburn Track is two half days and one full day. This is often thought of as 2 nights/3 days but if you have your own means of transport it is quite feasible to start after lunch on day one and finish before lunch on day three. The beauty of car relocation is no waiting around or backtracking while your next destination beacons!

Of course there are also a lot of walkers who spend 3, 4 or even 5 entire days on the track soaking up Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks. For most people it isn't every day they have the opportunity to walk the Routeburn track, why not take their time to stop and smell the flowers. Ideal way to let the rush of the world roll off their shoulders.

Some people may plan to walk the Routeburn Track in just one or two days, either due to non-availability of huts or because they are fit enough to walk 25km in a day. Each to their own, as long as everyone respects other walkers, the environment and also themselves.

Too often people think walking the Routeburn is a 'walk in the park' and they don't come prepared properly with appropriate clothing and footwear, food and gear. This selfish behaviour of not being prepared, not only puts their lives at risk, also those of others who assist when something goes wrong or the weather changes for the worst. Always, always, always check the weather report and be prepared with additional food and appropriate warm clothing.


Really it's whatever works with you. However in our opinion the best way to walk the Routeburn Track in two days is to start at the Divide (Milford/Te Anau side) and walk towards the Routeburn Shelter side near Queenstown. This make such a good use of time in many ways. You can visit Milford Sound that morning or have stayed overnight in Milford prior then begin the track sometime that morning or early afternoon (depending on the type of experience you are wanting and your walking speed) if you are staying in Lake Mackenzie hut.


The best hut to stay in walking either direction is the Lake Mackenzie hut. If you start from the Divide you will walk the longer day over the Harris Saddle on day two when you aren’t carrying so much food (you will have eaten most of it the night before!) and have a lighter pack on your back. You also start at a higher point and finish lower – we all love a little less uphill when we have the chance, don’t we...

In terms of views and experience – it is about the same both ways. Stopping to enjoy your surroundings means you see both directions anyway – but even if your schedule didn’t allow this you would be crazy if you didn’t stop for a couple of snaps on a clear day no matter what direction you are walking. The variety on the Routeburn is fantastic – from beech forests and swing bridges to alpine herb gardens mountain views, I love it!

Another factor to consider is the driving time. If you are driving from (and returning to) Queenstown, it is best to do the 3-4 hour drive to the Divide before you walk and enjoy the shorter drive of approx 1.5 hours back once you finished the walk. 

EasyHike has some special two-day package offers for walkers on Routeburn Track this summer. Check out their website for details.


Have you got a great story to tell? Add your own article