Walking tracks

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Kepler Track & Lake Te Anau, Fiordland

The most famous walking tracks in Fiordland National Park are its 'great walks' on good quality tracks maintained by the Department of Conservation. But there are other tracks too, and options to walk our tracks independently or guided. If you are a a visitor to New Zealand your first step to walking here is to understand that the Kiwi word for walking is "tramping". If you want to tramp, Fiordland is definitely the place for you. 

The great walk tracks  

The Milford track is the most famous track of all, travelling from the west side of Lake Te Anau, over the Wilmot Pass to Milford Sound in the North. The track was cut by pioneer explorers in the 1880s. For more information on this heroic effort, go to our History page.  

There is spirited argument about which is more beautiful; the Milford track or the Routeburn track next door. The Routeburn Track wends its way from the Divide (accessible from the Milford Road) towards, and into, Mount Aspiring National Park. 

The third great walk is the Kepler track, which starts from the shores of Lake Te Anau, just outside the town of Te Anau. It's therefore the most accessible great walk, but again there are arguments about whether it is the most beautiful. 

In short, all three great walks traverse awesome valleys and mountain ranges in Fiordland, and are fantastic tramping routes, and if you have the time then you should do them all. You always have the promise of a warm bed and a good meal in Te Anau between trips!

All three great walks have Department of Conservation huts along their route. It is essential to book ahead to stay in these huts, particularly on the Milford Track. Go to the Department of Conservation website to book, or pop into the Department of Conservation visitor centre on the lakefront in Te Anau (south of the main street) to find out last minute availability. 

Other multi-day tracks  

There are many more multi-day walks in Fiordland - it is 1.2 million hectares of wilderness after all. The Hollyford track (in the north of the park, down one of our most beautiful valleys) and the Humpridge track (in the south of the park) both have huts along their routes. (In the case of the Humpridge Track these are not owned and run by the Department of Conservation as this route is privately operated by the Tuatapere community). 

More challenging routes are the Dusky track and the George Sound track, again both with DOC huts along their routes.

One-day trails

There are many one-day trails. Some are reasonably short and straightforward, such as the Monument track, which is accessible by boat on Manapouri Lake and involves climbing up just 290 metres to a small summit with great views. Another great day trip is up Key Summit, accessible from the start of the Routeburn track from the Milford road at the Divide.

Routes for experienced trampers  

There are many routes for experienced trampers in Fiordland, such as the difficult Dore Pass. These routes are much less well marked and can be very challenging, including some potentially dangerous river crossings and mountain passes. A good range of topographical maps is available in Te Anau from Fiordland Frontier, Outside Sports and the Department of Conservation visitor centre. The Department of Conservation can also give safety advice on these routes and weather conditions. 

Guided day walks on a Great Walk track or another good quality track

There are a number of local companies offering day trips that include being guided on sections of the Kepler or the Routeburn tracks, or equally good quality tracks nearby. This can be a good option if you have limited time, limited tramping experience, or you just want to benefit from some knowledgeable nature interpretation along the way. The most established is probably the friendly Trips and Tramps run by husband and wife team Steve and Kate Norris. Tutoko Outdoor Guides is another local company specialising in guided tours for Japanese visitors, in Japanese. 

Being guided on a multi-day track   

For people with big wallets, there is the choice on the Milford, Routeburn and Hollyford tracks to be guided on the track's whole route with bedding and food provided, so you don't have to carry your food or a sleeping bag round the route. People choosing this option stay in a different building to independent walkers using the Department of Conservation huts. This service is operated by Queenstown company Ultimate Hikes, and their trips are advertised as startingwith a briefing in Queenstown and transport all the way from Queenstown, but if you have made the right choice and decided to base yourself in Te Anau it is possible to join your trip, and be briefed on your trip, in Te Anau. You can also be guided on the Humpridge track

Thanks to Trips and Tramps for sponsoring this page

trips and trampsOperating from Lake Te Anau, on the edge of Fiordland National Park, Trips & Tramps offers small group (12 people maximum) Milford Sound Day Tours, guided day walks in Fiordland and track transport.Trips and Tramps is the choice for experiencing this spectacular New Zealand region. We are a locally owned and operated company, with more than  20 years experience guiding groups through Fiordland and Milford Sound. So if you enjoy walking, hiking or tramping or just want the day off driving we are your first contact when you visit Fiordland National Park. Visit us at www.tripsandtramps.com