2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

The High Life: Kepler Track, New Zealand

Score iconic Kiwi scenery without lining up.

by: Michael Lanza

Kepler Track, New Zealand (David Wall)
Kepler Track, New Zealand (David Wall)

Be thankful for the crowds along the world-famous Milford and Routeburn Tracks. The more trekkers flock to them, the better your chances for solitude on this lesser-known neighbor. The 37.3-mile, four-day Great Walk Loop in Fiordland National Park shares the stunning scenery of Milford and Routeburn: surreal forests of twisted beech trees, where crown ferns carpet the ground and moss dangles hair-like from every limb; tussock ridgetops with views of steep mountains; and sprawling lakes. But since it doesn’t share the crushing demand of the other two hut systems, your chances of snagging a peak-season (October 1 to April 30) reservation are much better. 

A 2,900-foot, 8.6-mile ascent to the 54-bunk Luxmore Hut (BYO food, sleeping bag, and eating gear; gas cookers provided) on day one rewards you with a deck panorama of Lake Te Anau and killer sunrises and sunsets over the mountains. Make the 10-minute side hike from the hut to the closest of approximately 30 Luxmore Caves, filled with stalactites and stalagmites; you can venture into them for about 100 feet. Check the forecast posted early by the hut warden on the morning of day two; target the best weather window (early or late) for the nine-mile alpine crossing to Iris Burn Hut, both to maximize the scenic payoff and because the route is completely exposed to wind and storms. From Luxmore Saddle, make the 200-foot detour up 4,829-foot Mt. Luxmore for the trek’s best viewpoint of the lakes and peaks stretching for miles. Highlight: Beyond Hanging Valley Emergency Shelter on day two, you’ll walk a spectacular 1.2-mile, knife-edge ridge dividing Lake Te Anau from the Iris Burn river valley. 

Season Mid-February through March for the best combination of solitude and mild weather

Map/guide Parkmap 335-09 Kepler Track ($20 NZ;; Lonely Planet Tramping in New Zealand ($22;

Get there Begin and end at the control gates at the south end of Lake Te Anau.  

Cost/info $54 NZ/person/night (under 18 free); reserve a few months in advance for December and January (other times, space is often available two weeks in advance); Great Walk Pass required;

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Tell me about new boot trends!
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Rocky Mountains
Backpacking Trip in the Beartooths
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions