The Routeburn Track is one of the 9 Great Walks in New Zealand. This well traveled and well maintained track usually stretches 32km, but as of February 2020 the track is only open to the Mackenzie hut due to track damage, trampers will have to hike back out the same way they came in.
Time: 45mins – Multi day
Hut bookings: Required – Book here
Routeburn Nature Walk
A gentle wander on a well made path through a stand of majestic Red Beech trees. Great for photographers, young children and an after lunch ramble. Park at the Routeburn shelter and follow the signs after 5-10 minutes walk from the trailhead.
Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut
7.5 km, 1.5 – 2.5 hours
The first segment of the Routeburn Track makes an ideal day walk for those who are short on time. The wide, well maintained easy graded track crosses several swing bridges, goes past Bridal Veil Falls and over the Routeburn Gorge before opening up to vast grassy flats. The trail forks at the end of the first segment with the fork to the right leading to Routeburn Flats Hut and the fork to the left continuing on to Routeburn Falls Hut.
Routeburn Flats Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut
2.3 km, 1 – 1.5 hours
Between the huts is a significant gain in elevation. This steady climb through the beech forest crosses 2 swing bridges and offers spectacular views of the valley below. In 1994, heavy rain created a slip which washed away part of the original track; take care when crossing, particularly after heavy rain. The bridge at Emily Creek is the midway point of this section of the track. If trekking early or late in the season, beware of avalanches that have been know to fall as far as the bridge.
Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut
11.3 km, 4.5 – 6 hours
Climb steadily up the valley, through wetlands and tussock-covered flats, before sidling along the bluffs above Lake Harris to reach the highest point on the track at Harris Saddle/TarahakaWhakatipu (1,255 m).
Side trip – Conical Hill, 1 – 2 hours return (This walk is not recommended in snow or adverse weather conditions). A short, steep, rocky climb from the Harris Saddle up Conical Hill gives superb view of the Hollyford Valley through to Lake McKerrow, Martins Bay and the Tasman Sea.
The track then descends and traverses along the exposed Hollyford Face, with expansive views over the Darran Mountains. This section of the track is well-known for its impressive array of alpine plants. A steady descent leads to Lake Mackenzie Hut.
Lake Mackenzie Hut to Lake Howden Hut
8.6 km, 3 – 4 hours
From here the track crosses a small flat before climbing steeply to the bushline then gradually descending past the ‘Orchard’ ( an open grassy area) to the Earland Falls (174m). Should the falls be in flood, an emergency bridge is situated down stream. From this point, the track continues a gradual descent to Lake Howden Hut at the junction with the Greenstone/ Caples Tracks. There is a campsite at the Greenstone Saddle, 20 minutes down the Greenstone Track.
Lake Howden Hut to The Divide
3.4 km, 1 – 1.5 hours
The track climbs for about 15 minutes to the Key Summit turn-off.
Side trip – Key Summit, 1 – 1.5hrs return. Take the side track which climbs above the bushline to an alpine wetland and tarn interpretive walk. Please remain on the track and boardwalks as this is a fragile area. You will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Darran Mountains and the Hollyford Valley.
From the Key Summit turn-off the gradual downhill walk to The Divide is through silver beech forest. The Divide (532m) is the lowest east/west crossing in the Southern Alps. A shelter, carpark and toilets are located at The Divide.