If you’re looking for your next unforgettable hiking experience where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy a delightful walk, you should definitely visit one of the world’s best walks located in New Zealand. This trail is hailed as one of the best around the world not without any reasons. Breathtaking landscapes, beautiful and interesting huts with facilities to overnight, small waterfalls everywhere in the trail and the stunning views of the mountains are some of the elements that make the Routeburn Track so famous and fascinating.
The Routeburn Track’s trail
The Routeburn Track is considered one of the top 10 tracks of the Great Walks of New Zealand and it’s consisted of a 38-km-trek that links and wanders between the Fiordland National Park and the Mount Aspiring National Park. This journey through pristine mountains and breathtaking views of the alps can be completed between three and four days and it doesn’t require much effort to follow the well-formed track.
This track can take from two to three days. However, you should always remember that hiking is not a competition and you can always take more time to admire the landscapes if you want to. Just make sure to book beforehand in any of the places to overnight and check the weather of each day, as it tends to be very irregular. And also, it’s more recommendable to visit the Routeburn Track during the Great Walks Season, as there are more facilities on the Huts and Flats. Not to mention that hiking during this season tends to be easier.
Each part of the trail is full of magnificent views of the Southern Alps, broad valleys and crystal-clear lakes which drop down in small and refreshing waterfalls. Although the views are amazing, there’s more than only landscapes. The Routeburn Track is home to some of the most endangered bird species of New Zealand, so while walking you might hear them singing and if you’re lucky enough, you might catch a glance of these rarely seen little birds.
The first day of the track
What is peculiar about this track is that it has two possible starting and finishing points, the Routeburn shelter, which is near Glenorchy, and The Divide just off the Milford-to-Te Anau road, so you are free to choose in which point to start. In the case that you choose to start at The Divide, the first-day-track goes from the Milford Highway to the Mackenzie Hut and it takes around five and six hours.
The first three kilometers after leaving The Divide consist of a walk through dense vegetation that makes it impossible to have any views from the mountains or valleys. However, after 1-hour walking, you finally start to see the Hollyford Valley which, is near the river with the same name, Hollyford river.
Another positive aspect about this track is that there are several side tracks that you can also enjoy. After the Hollyford River, there’s a signpost to a wonderful side path called Key Summit. On this sidetrack, you can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views and alpine lakes, it’s definitely a path suitable for both adults and children and the best option to spend time together.
Once you return to the main path and descend to the crystal clear Lake Howden, you can enjoy the stunning landscapes of the Greenstone Saddle and the Caples Track while having lunch. After walking a little bit more, you can see the breathtaking 80-meter cascade: Earland Falls. A nice place to take pictures and take a deep breath of fresh air.
The track then makes a way through the more lush forest to reach the Orchard, an amazing clearing where you can see the often snow-capped summit of Mount Christina. The end of the first day of this track is at the Mackenzie Hut, a nice place with a lot of facilities where you can overnight. Just make sure to have booked it beforehand during the Great Walk season.
The second day of the Track
After resting and having a shower at the Mackenzie Hut, prepare yourself to get ready for a second day full of breathtaking views. This section of the trail begins nearby the Lake Mackenzie and leads you through a magical forest. Once you arrive at the woodland clears, there’s an upward stretch path to the resplendent Ocean Peak Corner. Following the same rocky path, you’ll see a marvelous panorama of the Hollyford Valley and sea that are below.
You can get to see more mesmerizing and interesting views as you climb the path around Lake Harris, a small alpine and crystal clear lake. Following this path, you’ll reach the Valley of the Trolls, a narrow valley with rocky walls and little streams running through it. It requires a little bit more of stamina and strength to reach the end of the gorge, which is the Routeburn Valley, and to walk the sharp descent that is formed from this part of the path on. Although it may be exhausting walking this part of the track, you won’t even think too much about it because of the delightful vista and relaxing sounds of the streams.
The end on the second day and the trail are full of stepped waterfalls and a small path through the forest that leads you to the Routeburn Flats, a place to overnight in which the wonderful Mount Xenicus is the main attraction. This path follows the stony Routeburn River, in where the swaying suspension bridges take you across it and give you a perfect panorama.
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