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Day Hike the Routeburn North Branch

Kinloch, New Zealand


Route Type



Added by Maggie Evans

If you don't have time to hike the entire Routeburn Track or if you failed to book it in time but are still keen to see what it's about, then explore the less used track up the pristine Routeburn North Branch as a day trip from Queenstown. And if time permits, head a bit further towards Routeburn Falls Hut for the iconic valley view.

To access the Routeburn North Branch, you start out from the Routeburn Shelter and head along the Routeburn Track towards Routeburn Flats Hut (6.5km). At the hut, cross the wide but shallow North Branch to pick up the poled route on the other side that leads through the last of the Routeburn flats. The track then enters forest and climbs upwards before emerging in the open space of an old slip. You come to a small tarn and then the track wanders onto a long grassy plain that slopes gently to the river on the right. Cairns mark the way from there and it starts to feel like more of a scramble. Eventually the valley floor turns into a mound of boulders and you're left standing with a view of Mount Somnus.

If you have time on your way out, rather than heading back to the carpark from Routeburn Flats Hut, continue along the track towards Routeburn Falls Hut (about 1.5-2km further) until you get the impressive view of the Routeburn Flats that is arguably one of the prettiest views seen along the Routeburn Great Walk.

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