Throughout New Zealand there are a series of Great Walks that allow hikers (called trampers in New Zealand) to take in some of the most remote and untouched landscapes in New Zealand. These multi-day Great Walks are exceptionally well maintained and have basic backcountry huts for accommodation along the way.
The Routeburn Track stretches 32 kilometres through the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks and along the way passes a huge variety of landscapes. The three to four day Routeburn Track offers up fantastic views and is one of the most popular tracks in New Zealand.
You could argue – in fact – that it’s too popular. Walk the Routeburn Track during the high season and you’ll not realize you’re miles away from civilization as you’ll be sharing the track with hundreds of others seeking New Zealand’s untouched wilderness.
I didn’t get that feeling when I walked a day hike on the track recently. As it’s nearing the end of winter, we met all of maybe four people throughout the entire day. It was great to escape Queenstown’s busy resort town feel and be reminded of one of the many reasons New Zealand is such a fascinating place to visit.
Here are some photos from one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Routeburn Track.
A stream near the start of the track.
One of the many swing bridges found along the track – while these weren’t tricky to walk across, you felt slightly odd on your feet after getting back on solid ground.
It was a perfectly clear day with some well needed sun. We started early in the morning and these clouds hadn’t yet burned off.
The track starts through thick Mountain Beech forest before opening up at the Routeburn Flats.
Looking down towards the Routeburn Flats.
After walking along the Routeburn Flats and passing the first hut on the track, you quickly begin to gain elevation. While the track becomes a bit more physically challenging, it’s still not difficult. At about 900 meters you reach a point where a massive slip has totally cleared out the native forest.
The slip occurred in 1987 and had the result of opening up this remarkable view of The Humbolts. It’s a great place to drop your pack, grab your lunch and really allows you to appreciate where you’re at.
Check out this photo album on Flickr which features many photos of this exact view taken from different people hiking the track.
Still from the slip, looking slightly to the left.
Looking back at the Routeburn Flats again.
Here is a bridge which was taken out. My guess is it was a massive boulder which came tumbling down the creek valley after a heavy rainstorm.
River along the track.
If you’re keen to do the whole track (and I’m told it only gets more impressive), it has become so popular that a booking system is in place.
Bookings are required during the high season from October to April and it will cost you $45/night to stay in the huts along the track – quite pricey given your hut accommodation is a bunk in a very large room. In the low season, you’re not required to book in advance yet you’re still required to pay $15/night to sleep in the huts.
If you don’t have three or four full days to commit to walking the whole length of the Routeburn Track, I highly recommend you do single days walk as a day trip from Queesntown. You’ll have to start early as the start of the track is just past Glenorchy, or about an hours drive away from Queenstown. We walked from the Routeburn Shelter to the Routeburn Falls Hut (17.6 kms) in about 7 hours return yet spent a lot of time taking in the views from the slip.
It’s a truly impressive area of New Zealand and the day hike offers an excellent taste of one of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks.
Have you done any hiking in New Zealand? Leave your experiences in the comments section below.