4 Days 60 KM

Highlights

  • Tussock high country
  • Glacier-carved valleys
  • Cascading waterfalls

Proximity

GRADE: INTERMEDIATE

Best time: Late Oct to Late April

This awe-inspiring track was designed to show you all the best features of Fiordland - mountains, native forest, waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys.

Find out how to plan your Kepler Track walk and experience one of the Great Walks of New Zealand.

1. Overview of the Kepler Track

Unlike many other multi-day walks, which evolved from Māori greenstone trails or pioneer exploration routes, the Kepler Track was custom-made, built for pleasure, rather than necessity.

Opened in 1988, the track was carefully planned to show walkers all the best features of Fiordland; moss-draped beech forest, prolific bird life, tussock high country, huge mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, vast glacier-carved valleys, luxuriant river flats and limestone formations.

The track’s construction makes for easier walking.

Most streams are bridged, boardwalks cover boggy areas and the very steep sections have steps.

Walk the Kepler and you’ll see everything that’s marvelous about this exquisite corner of the world. 

2. Walking the Kepler Track

The fitter you are the more you will enjoy yourself, so a good level of fitness and strength is necessary. 

Find out more about the walk and what is involved; 

Day 1: Te Anau > Luxmore Hut, 15.8km

Begin the walk at Te Anau township on the lake path outside the Te Anau i-SITE visitor centre.

Continue on the shores of the lake past the carpark and through forests of mountain and red beech trees before reaching pretty Brod Bay. Cool off with a refreshing swim or stop here for morning tea.

From here the track climbs steadily for 2 hours up to limestone bluffs before breaking out of the bush line. Here, the panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin, Takitimu Mountains, and the Snowdon and Earl Mountains are spectacular. This is also where there's a good chance you'll encounter kea - New Zealand's large, extremely intelligent alpine parrots.

Luxmore Hut(opens in new window) is only a 45-minute walk from here. After arriving at the hut, take a short walk to Luxmore Cave, one of many in the area. Bring a torch to admire the stalactites and stalagmites.

Day 2, Luxmore Hut > Iris Burn Hut, 14.6km

Today's portion of the walk includes hikes along exposed ridges with huge views of the valley below.

Begin with a climb up to a ridge just below the summit of Mount Luxmore (1,472 metres). If you're feeling energetic the summit can be reached in 10 minutes.

The track then winds down to the Forest Burn Saddle before zig-zagging across a ridge system to Hanging Valley Shelter. Small tarns (lakes) can be seen between the ridges. From here, you'll descend through a beautiful forest that leads to a large tussock clearing and the Iris Burn Hut(opens in new window)

Day 3, Iris Burn Hut > Moturau Hut, 16.2km

A steady hike awaits today, with the track winding it's way through beech forest, a gorge and a low saddle. Bellbirds, tomtits, grey warblers, fantails and chaffinches are common throughout the forest. 

Walk along river flats and a lowland podocarp forest before emerging on the shores of Lake Manapouri.

Moturau Hut(opens in new window) is situated next to a beautiful beach with stunning views of the lake. While you’re bedded down for the night, listen for the hooting of ruru (our native owl) and the brown kiwi's shrill whistles.

Day 4, Moturau Hut > Rainbow Reach, 6km

The final day of the Kepler track is a moderate stroll to reach the end.

The track follows the terraces of the Waiau River Terrace to the swing-bridge at Rainbow Reach. Look for yellow-crowned parakeets along the river. Walkers are able to catch a shuttle bus or arrange transport to pick them up and take them back to Te Anau from here. 

3. Accommodation on the Kepler Track

There are three huts and two campsites provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC) dotted at points along the track.

At the DOC huts you'll find running water, solar lighting, tables and seating and cooking facilities in the summer months. 

Bookings are required for all huts and campsites on the Kepler Track during the Great Walks season which is from late October through to late April. 

During the off-peak season DOC backcountry hut tickets or annual hut passes are required. Huts can be booked online(opens in new window) of through any Department of Conservation office(opens in new window).

Book Kepler Track huts

4. Towns near the Kepler Track

Manapouri and Te Anau are close to the entry/exit points of the Kepler Track.

Both towns have great restaurants, quality accommodation and fantastic alpine lake scenery.

The alpine resort town of Queenstown is 2 hours drive away, and is home to a large range of places to stay and things to see and do.

 

5. Getting to the Kepler Track trail head

There are three points that the Kepler Track can be started from; 

  • The Kepler Track car park which is 5 kilometres from Te Anau 
  • From the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre walk for 50 min walk along the lakefront until you get to the entrance of the track 
  • The Rainbow Reach car park which is 12 kilometres from Te Anau

Shuttle buses provide a daily service to the entry and exit points on the track during the Great Walks season. A scheduled boat service also offers transport to Brod Bay.

Take a look at; 

6. Book a guided tour of the Kepler Track

Booking a walk with a tour provider

There are a number of specialist tour operators who can aide you in bringing your walking experience to life. Browse through the business listings below to find the walking experience that is right for you.

Booking a walk independently

If you want to do a Great Walk independently, you will need to book the DOC accommodation on the trails. The fee for this varies between each Great Walk. It is recommended that you book in advance for this popular walk.

7. How to prepare for the Great Walks of New Zealand

Five simple rules, also known as The Land Safety Code, to help you stay safe when trekking or tramping in the outdoors of New Zealand. 

1. Choose the right trip for you

Make sure the chosen trip is suitable for your fitness level.

2. Understand the weather

New Zealand's weather changes quickly, always check the forecast. If the weather is bad, wait until it clears or turn around. 

3. Pack warm clothes and extra food

Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.

4. Share your plans and ways to get help

Tell a trusted person your trip details and take a personal locator beacon with you - these can be purchased or hired from local gear shops.

5. Take care of yourself and others 

Eat, drink and rest. Stay with your group and always make decisions together. 

The Land Safety Code

What to pack for Great Walks of New Zealand

Having the right gear is imperative when tramping in the outdoors. 

Watch this video(opens in new window) to find out what to pack and events to prepare for. 

Find out all you need to know about walking in New Zealand at Adventure Smart(opens in new window).

Find out what to pack

View the Kepler Track on the map

Department of Conservation

Click the link below for more information and detailed maps about this trail.

Kepler Track(opens in new window)

Book your Kepler Track journey

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