Backpack the Kepler Track

Kepler Track Carpark

Take in spectacular views into the fiords from the ridgeline on this great walk. There are campsites and Huts available (Reservations required during summer). In the winter, this is an Expert route due to high avalanche risk.

Important: In the Great Walks season (October till late April) bookings are required for campsites and huts - huts have gas cooking stoves and resident wardens. Check with local DOC before you go. Outside the Great Walks season facilities are greatly reduced and there are additional safety hazards to consider.

Day 1: Carpark to Luxmore Hut (13,8 km / 8,6 mi)
The track follows the shoreline through beech forest and passes Brod Bay, which is a great place to swim and camp if you have had a late start. There is a shelter provided, with tank water, picnic tables and two toilets. From Brod Bay, the track steadily ascends for about two hours to limestone bluffs. The bush line is reached after another hour’s climb. From here you have panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin and Earl Mountains. Luxmore Hut (1085 m) is located about 45 minute walk from the bush line. A side trip is possible from Luxmore Hut - Luxmore cave is a 10 minute walk from the hut and is well signposted. Write down your intentions in the visitors' book provided in the hut before visiting the cave. It's recommend that each person carries a minimum of two light sources.

Day 2: Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn (14,6 km / 8,7 mi)
The next day starts with a great sunrise from the balcony of Luxmore Hut. After this the track climbs gradually from the hut to a ridge just below the summit of Mount Luxmore. You should walk the 10 minute side trip to the summit (1472 m) which provides stunning panoramic views. The track then descends to a shelter close to Forest Burn Saddle, where there is avalanche gear provided in case of an emergency.

While crossing the saddle beware of wind gusts. The track follows the ridge for about two hours to Hanging Valley Shelter. It then follows a long, open ridge toward the Iris Burn and descends through a series of zigzags into the valley. Iris Burn Hut and campsite (497 m) is located in a large tussock field. Make sure you have insect repellent with you - now is the perfect time to use it (many sandflies!!). From Iris Burn Hut walk the 20 minute stroll to Iris Burn Waterfall.

Day 3: Iris Burn Hut to Kepler Track Carpark (31,7 km / 19,3 mi)
The Track leads steadily beech forest and a gorge. After the gorge, the tracks comes out on river flats near the mouth of the Iris Burn. Nearing Lake Manapouri it follows the lake shore to Moturau Hut, where you’re able to stop for another night. After this it’s a moderate stroll through beech forest to Rainbow Reach. The track crosses a wetland and follows the Waiau River terrace to the Kepler Track carpark.

Pack List

  • Sunblock & Insect repellent
  • Hiking Boots
  • Sunblock
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Warm layers
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Water and snacks
  • Camera and tripod
  • Sleeping bag, tent, enough food/water
  • Crampons, Ice Axe, Avalanche Gear (winter)
Show More
RT Distance 37.3 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing challenging hike

Since it was the Great Walks season and most huts were booked we stayed at Brod Bay and Iris Burn campsites - a long middle day but some amazing views and incredible ridge hiking! Would have loved to stay at Luxmore but unfortunately it was booked out (and we had to keep going right away since some lightning storms were threatening the ridge later that day). It looked like a great spot to stay. All of the rangers we met along the way were extremely helpful (I believe they're only there during Great Walks season). Definitely an awesome walk - if you have time Te Anau is a great spot to stay and refuel before/after your hike as well!

Great 4 Days!!

We went outside the "Great Walk Season" so the huts were a fraction of the cost. The weather wasn't great but the views were still incredible! Loved the days that we had on the track. The second day had spectacular ridgeline views. Most likely will go back and try and get some better days.

Great Hike - Side Trips Worth While

This trek is not as challenging as many others in NZ, but the views are spectacular. It's definitely worth the side trip to Iris Burn Falls and also the cave near Luxemore Hut. When descending into Iris Burn, the trail has some of the most beautiful, moss-covered old-growth forest I encountered during my five months in NZ. The way out from Iris Burn to the car park is a long day but you have the option of breaking it up at the Moturau hut in-between. Compared to the other lesser-known, less expensive hut routes however, I wouldn't recommend paying peak season price for this route.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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