Backpack the Kepler Track
New Zealand › Kepler Track Carpark
Added by Daniel Ernst
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.
- Sunblock & Insect repellent
- Hiking Boots
- Warm layers
- Waterproof jacket
- Water and snacks
- Camera and tripod
- Sleeping bag, tent, enough food/water
- Crampons, Ice Axe, Avalanche Gear (winter)
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Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography
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ReviewsLeave a Review
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.
Incredible Ridgeline Track with Stunning Views
The Kepler Track is incredibly scenic, specifically the section between Luxmore Hut and Iris Burn. The trail is right along the ridgeline and is unexplainably aesthetic. I could not recommend this track enough! We started our trip at the Kepler Track Car Park late in the evening, and headed in to Brod Bay Campsite for the night. We arrived just as the sun was setting after about an hour of easy walking. The next morning was the start of our long day. We went from Brod Bay all the way to Iris Burn in a single day, stopping by the Luxmore Hut for a lunch break, and tagging the summit of Mount Luxmore, which is well worth the short detour from the track. The section between Forest Burn Shelter and just beyond Hanging Valley Shelter is my favorite part of the track. You hike along a stunning ridgeline most of the time. Just make sure to account for the added time due to your jaw dragging on the ground behind you! Not too long after the Hanging Valley Shelter, the track drops back into the fern and moss covered forests with endless switchbacks. After the long day, this was definitely the most mind-numbing part of the hike. We just wanted to get to camp and get some rest! Our last day we hiked from the Iris Burn Campsite to the Rainbow Reach Carpark. We opted to walk about 10 minutes out to the main road and hitched a ride back to the Kepler Track Car Park rather than do the last section of track, primarily because of a tight itinerary. Overall, an amazing track, and well worth the status of one of New Zealand's "Great Walks."
Had an awesome time on this track, but be prepared for ANY KIND of weather. It rained almost the entire time we were hiking and we experienced 50+mph wind gusts on the ridgeline between Luxmore and Iris Burn. It's on my to-do list to go back and see what it looks like when it's not a torrential downpour!
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