My second and one of my favourite Great Walks, the Kepler Track is a 60km, 3-4 day circuit from Te Anau over the Kepler Mountains and Jackson Peaks. It has some of the toughest but most rewarding sections of any of the Great Walks, with epic views on a clear day. Worth noting that by taking a boat to Brod Bay and shuttle from Rainbow Reach car park you can skip 15km of the least interesting parts of track.
Which is fine if you don’t start the track on Christmas Day, one of the few days that the boat to Brod Bay doesn’t run. Thankfully the walk here through classic Fjordland bush along by Lake Te Anau is very pleasant, though not the concentration of sand flies at Brod Bay itself. They provided motivation to quickly tackle the steep and mostly viewless climb up to the 1,085m Luxmore Hut, beautifully situated and home to the only internal hut toilets I’ve come across, though listening to the wind and rain overnight the design was understandable.
A short distance from the hut are Luxmore Caves, worth an explore.
The next day to Iris Burns Hut runs along a narrow ridge across the mountains, which on a clear day would offer stunning views. Unfortunately my day was far from clear, but the clouds did occasionally part long enough to warrant a quick scramble for the camera and a few photos. Plus found the most isolated toilet I’ve come across.
The next day was a stunner but I had 22km to Rainbow Reach car park to catch a shuttle bu, so lacked the time, and to be honest the energy (did Kepler back to back with the Routeburn Track), to tackle the super steep track back up to the ridge for views. Just means that I’ll do the track again 🙂 This final section was flat, and very doable to skip the Moturua Hut, inviting as it looked on the shore of Lake Te Anau. I thought this would be the least interesting section of the track, but it proved otherwise in the colour enhancing morning light, particularly when it hit a cascading waterfall.
Highlights: Along the ridge line if the weather is clear, Luxmore Hut at 1299m above sea level is one of my favourite huts with some cool caves nearby so take a torch
Lowlights: Lots of sand flies at Brod Bay and Moturau Hut, doing the full loop from Te Anau involves quite a long walk along the road at the start and end of tramp
Route taken: Two nights, Luxmore and Iris Burn Huts, very doable to skip Moturau Hut as gradual downhill / flat from Iris Burn Hut onwards
Tips: Can skip start and each of track road sections using buses, or ferry out to Brod Bay, recommend starting Brod Bay end as much easier to go from Luxmore to Iris Burn Hut than the other way around