One of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, the Kepler Track makes for a wonderful winter day 28km return walk up to Luxmore Hut to soak in the views over lunch, before heading back to Te Anau.
During late spring, summer and autumn the full 60km circuit can be walked (which I did as my second tramp or multi-day hike), but over the winter and early spring months when there is often snow on the ground, the track is generally closed between Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn due to avalanche risk. The track to Luxmore Hut is usually open though, and a fairly easy walk, with well graded paths and a decent but steady 800m climb up to the hut at 1,085m.
Starting from the Control Gates to Lake Te Anau the track heads through lush bush along by the shores of Lake Te Anau. It was a grey and overcast day in Te Anau, as it was for my three days there, but sunshine wasn’t too far away.
Heading up the hill I passed through the cloud before hitting the bushline and being treated to these views. Quite a contrast!
There were a few sections of ice before the bushline but from then on it was snow, much easier to walk on, and provided a scenic white blanket across the landscape.
Mt Luxmore was prominent, if unreachable at the time. A couple from the hut had attempted the day before and turned back 20 mins away from the summit due to avalanche risk.
I was quite happy with the views from here though, surrounded by white clouds and snow capped mountains, plus a frozen tarn and some dramatic skies.
Luxmore Hut is a favourite of mine, still the only one I’ve visited with the toilets inside, understandably given the weather it can face.
It has a decent kitchen area with windows making the most of the views.
Lunch was interrupted by the buzz of a helicopter that came in to land by the hut. A well to do tourist had flown up with a guide and was going to walk down.
After lunch I headed over to Luxmore Caves, with the snow and ice packed entrance soon clearing inside. I’d been to the end on my previous trip so didn’t venture far this time.
As I headed back down the hillside the sky came to life with amazing shades of colour, reminding me of Antarctica skies.