View from the Kepler Track

Image: John Strother | ©

Introduction

From late October to April, walk past the beech-forested shorelines of lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, to tussock-covered ridgelines with spectacular alpine vistas. From May to late October, it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours - only attempt if you have alpine, navigation and river crossing skills.

Highlights


Bookings are open for trips from 27 October 2020 to 30 April 2021.


Video

Track overview

60 km loop

Seasonal restrictions

In the Great Walks season (27 October 2020 – 30 April 2021):

Best time to walk the track - there are more facilities and fewer hazards. Bookings are required for huts and campsites.

Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2021 – 26 October 2021):

Walking the track should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people - facilities are greatly reduced and there are additional hazards.

Dog access

No dogs

Brochures

  • Kepler Track brochure (PDF, 3,260K) - includes map and profile
  • Kepler Track walking guide – pick one up when you collect your tickets at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre

About this track

Walking in late October to April

In the Great Walks season (27 October 2020 – 30 April 2021):

  • track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough
  • cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur
  • DOC manages avalanche risk to a low level and may close the alpine section of the track between Luxmore Hut and Iris Burn Hut if avalanche conditions exist
  • track is not recommended for children under the age of 10, due to the exposed  mountainous environment and often adverse weather conditions.

On this page:

Highlights

  • Watch out for the cheeky kea - the world's only alpine parrot
  • Explore the fascinating Luxmore Caves
  • Walk to the isolated Iris Burn Falls

Explore on Google Street ViewWatch videos 

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Iris Burn Falls

Walking options

Walk the full track. Most walkers take 4 days/3 nights.

Enjoy a day walk. Kepler Track carpark to Dock Bay and Brod Bay | Kepler Track carpark to Rainbow ReachRainbow Reach to Shallow Bay or Moturau Hut | Kepler Track carpark to Luxmore Hut

Places to stay

There are 3 huts and 2 campsites along the Kepler Track, which must be booked well in advance during the Great Walks season. Camping or staying overnight in the shelters at Forest Burn and Hanging Valley is not permitted.

Hut facilities

Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting, and cold running water. A DOC ranger is in residence. Huts do not have food, cooking utensils or showers.

Campsite facilities

Campsites have basic facilities including toilets, sinks and a water supply. Some have picnic tables and shelters. Campers can't use the hut facilities.

Fees and bookings

Huts

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $65 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $65 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $32.50 per person, per night
Campsites

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $20 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $20 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $10 per person, per night

New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate. Acceptable eligibility proof.
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

Bookings

Huts and campsites must be booked in advance. Booking opening dates are notified two weeks ahead of bookings opening. Book online

You can book transport between Te Anau and the ends of the tracks, otherwise it's a 50 min walk.

Getting there

Kepler Track can be started from:

  • Kepler Track car park: 5 km from Te Anau.
  • Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre: 50 min walk along the lakefront to the entrance of the track.
  • Rainbow Reach car park: 12 km 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.

Destination Fiordland has information about transport operators.

What to take

To have a safe and enjoyable trip, it's essential you have the appropriate clothing and equipment. Find out what to take.

Know before you go

Weather conditions can change quicky in any season. Fiordland National Park experiences high rainfall (up to 9000 mm per year) and weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. Be prepared for all conditions. Check the Fiordland National Park weather forecast (MetService website).

The risk of avalanche can extend into December. During the Great Walks season, DOC manages avalanche risk and may close the alpine section between Luxmore Hut and Iris Burn Hut if there is avalanche hazard.

Your safety is your responsibility. Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to ensure you have a great trip and make it home.

Track description

Kepler Track carpark to Brod Bay

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 5.6 km

The track begins with a stroll through the beech forest along the shore of Lake Te Anau, the largest body of fresh water in Australasia, to Brod Bay.

Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut

Time: 3 hr 30 min - 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 8.2 km

A challenging climb under impressive limestone bluffs takes you above the bushline to panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin and surrounding mountains. Luxmore Hut is a 45 minute walk from the bushline.

Side trip: Luxmore Cave

Time: 20 min return

The track from the hut is clearly signposted.

Side trip: Luxmore summit

Time: 30 min return

In fine weather you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views from the highest point on the track (1472 m).

Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut

Time: 5 – 6 hr
Distance: 14.6 km

Start your day on top of the world. From the hut, you’ll climb to a ridge just below Mount Luxmore, with stunning views across the south fiord of Lake Te Anau to the Murchison Mountains. A welcoming sight after a day on the tops, Iris Burn Hut is situated in a large tussock clearing.

Iris Burn Hut to Moturau Hut

Time: 5–6 hr
Distance: 16.2 km

Experience ever-changing scenery as the track takes you over a low saddle, then down past a large slip caused by heavy rain to Rocky Point. You’ll then wind through a gorge and lowland beech and podocarp forest, before reaching the shore of beautiful Lake Manapouri. The beach-side Moturau Hut has stunning views of the lake.

Moturau Hut to Rainbow Reach

Time: 1 hr 30 min - 2 hr
Distance: 6 km

The last day is easy walking across a unique and fragile wetland. The track then follows the Waiau River terrace to the swing bridge at Rainbow Reach. You can leave the track here and catch a shuttle bus to Te Anau.

Rainbow Reach to Kepler Track carpark

Time: 2 hr 30 min – 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 9.5 km

Continue alongside the Waiau River to the Kepler Track car park.


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Walking in May to late October

Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2020 - 26 October 2020):

  • it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours
  • DOC does not manage hazards such as avalanches and flooding
  • there are additional hazards to consider.

Walking the track at this time should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people.

Expect challenging track conditions

The track over the alpine section is not marked and is often blanketed in thick snow. The side track to the Luxmore Caves can also be very slippery and icy.

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Snow blankets the alpine section of the Kepler Track, making travel slow
Image: DOC

Conditions will be wet and cold with snow

During the winter months Fiordland can be very wet and cold. Daylight is limited and the high mountains let little sunlights into the valleys. Alpine areas are usually covered in snow. Dress for these conditions.

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Avalanches will be frequent

The Kepler Track has a lot of challenging and complex avalanche terrain. Avalanches are frequent. There are 9 avalanche paths, and most have the potential to cross the track. In some instances, by following the track, you'll be crossing avalanche paths - you may need to navigate around them. 

If you are going into places avalanches could occur, be sure you:

Map of avalanche paths on Kepler Track (JPG, 934K) 

Expect reduced hut facilities

  • Hut facilities are reduced:
    • Gas is not provided – you will need to bring your own cooking stove.
    • Flush toilets are replaced with pit toilets.
    • Running water is turned off inside the huts. Water can be obtained from the outside water tank; if this is frozen, then from the nearest water course or by melting snow.
    • No emergency radio facilities.
    • No rangers based at the huts.
  • Bookings are not required:
    • Bunks are first come, first served.
    • Payment is with Backcountry Hut Tickets or a Backcountry Hut Pass - buy these from a DOC visitor centre before you go.
Hut fees

For all visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $15 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free
Campsite fees

For all visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $5 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free

Expect reduced transport services

All transport must be arranged before starting the track. During winter, transport operators require minimum numbers and do not always operate a daily service. Transport arrangements can be affected by bad weather. You must discuss an alternative option with transport operators before you begin your walk.

Be totally self-sufficient

You need to be totally self-sufficient. In addition to what to take in the Great Walks season, you also need:

  • food for at least two extra days
  • stove and gas for cooking
  • lighter or matches
  • alpine equipment: ice axe and crampons
  • avalanche equipment: beacon, snow shovel, avalanche probe
  • personal locator beacon
  • mountain radio or satellite messenger (optional)


Luxmore Hut after a snow storm - alpine equipment is essential


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Contacts

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Postal Address:   PO Box 29
Te Anau 9640
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