Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Snow-capped mountain peaks dominate the skyline
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Highlights

  • The Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s most impressive Great Walks
  • An alpine crossing from Fiordland to Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Tracks originally walked on by Maoris to search for precious jade
  • High ridges around Harris Saddle with majestic views in many directions
  • Sit beside Te Anau Lake and view the mountain skyline reflected in the water

Walk the Routeburn, one of New Zealand’s finest tracks and a renowned alpine crossing.

This Great Walk takes you across the Southern Alps Main Divide and from Fiordland National Park, which covers 5% of New Zealand’s total land area to Mount Aspiring National Park, which has more than 100 glaciers and mountain ranges with high peaks over 2700m.

With spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys, you weave through tranquil alpine meadows, gardens, waterfalls and fairy glades. Views from Harris Saddle and Key Summit are rewards for some steep climbs. Settle to your very welcoming and comfortable B&B in Te Anau, and whilst on the track, stay in DOC huts and immerse yourself in this walking culture, locally known as “tramping”.

Day 1: Arrive Te Anau and overnight

Arrive in the serene and charming town of Te Anau, This small town is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and situated in the south-western part of the South Island. Ringed by snow-capped peaks it stretches along New Zealand’s deepest and grandest lake of the same name. You can arrive in Te Anau by rental car (which we can arrange for you). The journey takes about 2H from Queenstown Airport. Alternatively you can take a direct bus from Queenstown Airport on an Intercity bus. (2H15). Today your food and gear will be dropped off at your accommodation ready to begin the walking tomorrow.


Overnight: Te Anau


Day 2: Optional Milford Sound Cruise. Walk from The Divide to Lake Mackenzie Hut

This morning you may opt to take a cruise of the Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attraction and an icon of the South Island. Sheer cliffs surround you with frosty alpine peaks on the horizon, contrasting with the blackness of the lake water.


Set off on the first section of the Routeburn Track from The Divide (Te Anau to The Divide is 1H30). Immediately panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Darran Mountains and the Humboldt Mountains begin to unfold. These types of views are those that you can consistently look forward to over the course of the next couple of days.


Pass the turn off to Key Summit and if you wish take this side path to the top, which is a 30-45 minute detour, but well worth it as the views from the top are unforgettable. You walk over boardwalks en route as the habitat here is particularly fragile. See rushes, mosses, orchids, bog pine and other small herbs that thrive here.


Descend back to the main track the way you walked up and cross Pass Creek before walking by the impressive 80m Earland Falls. The track hugs the cliffside and edges across several avalanche paths, also crossing Sunny Creek and a natural clearing known as The Orchard, as the trees here resemble fruit trees. Ford several streams before emerging from deep forest to a small flat area where you will see Lake Mackenzie Hut. This DOC Hut enjoys a tranquil setting at the southern end of the lake. The emerald waters of Lake Mackenzie beautifully reflect Emily Peak and other prominent summits.


Walk: 12 km

Elevation Gain: +370m

Overnight:  Lake Mackenzie Hut

Day 3: Walk to Routeburn Falls Hut

This part of the Routeburn Track is the most spectacular as you will be climbing up above the treeline and traversing along the exposed Hollyford Face. You will also be crossing from Fiordland National Park into Mount Aspiring National Park.


Surrounded by expansive panoramas, these are some of the most impressive views in all of New Zealand, with Mt Madeline (2,537m) and Mt Tutoko (2746m) on the skyline. This is a highly exposed section and you should be careful here in high winds.


A bridge leads you over Potter’s Creek from where you round a bare around a knoll and several tarns. Climb Conical Hill, (if you wish you may scramble a further 250m to see the view from the top) before the track crosses the Harris Saddle. Turn into the Routeburn Valley and walk through mounds of moraine and rock bluffs above and around the deep-blue Lake Harris. Created by glaciation this lake is cold all year round, so if you do want a dip it will have to be quick!


Walk through a pleasant alpine meadow, where at certain times of year you can see gentians, daisies, herbs and buttercups in full bloom. Then approach the Routeburn Falls Hut perched on the head of the valley and looking out over the silver-beech forest, the Humboldt Mountains and the Routeburn Valley.


Walk: 11.3 km

Elevation Gain/Loss: +385m/-255m

Overnight: Routeburn Falls Hut

Day 4: Walk to Routeburn Shelter and Onward Travel

On this final section of the Routeburn Track, a gentle descent provides glorious views of this region’s wild beauty. Set off through the forest until you come to an exposed cliff face where there was a landslide years ago. You head back into the forest, then edge around Phoenix Bluff before crossing a swing bridge over Emily Creek and Israeli Creek, named after a couple from Israel who got lost for a while coming over a nearby untracked pass..


You have dropped 270m through beech forest and now the path forks. Take the right-hand fork following a level route through the trees to peaceful Forge Flats, so named as this was the site of a Blacksmiths camp in the 1870’s. The track narrows and you enter a gorge called The Chasm. Pass Bridal Veil Falls and cross Sugarloaf Stream before your final destination, the Routeburn Shelter. Here you can pick up your rental car which has been relocated for you or take the included transfer bus back to Queenstown.


If you do choose to extend your experience of New Zealand for longer why not book one of our other Great Walks, such as the Milford, Kepler or Abel Tasman Track. Ask your Destination & Adventure Specialist for more details.


Walk: 8.8 km

Elevation Loss: -500m

Accommodation

1 Night in a B&B, 2 Nights in DOC Huts. This tour has varied accommodation, both basic, in the huts, contrasting with comfort on the first night. You will need to be flexible so that you can enjoy both of these experiences.


Please note that the DOC huts are subject to availability. There are a couple of other huts along the way that maybe used, however this may mean longer walking days. Before we book these alternate huts we will be sure to ask if this is something that suits you.


A friendly conservation ranger is located at each hut. They know the area well and can tell you about the environment and weather, or help out should an emergency arise.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers as the areas that are walked through are very remote and there is no mobile phone service. Single rooms are available on request on the first and last night and a supplement is payable.



 

 




Blue Ridge B&B - Te Anau

This B&B has 3 studio rooms, all of which are very spacious and beautifully decorated. Your unobtrusive, but willing hosts are only too happy to help you to maximise your stay in beautiful Fiordland.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Lake Mackenzie Hut - Routeburn Track



Lake Mackenzie Hut - Routeburn Track

This DOC hut has 50 bunks with mattresses in a communal sleeping layout. It is a comfortable hut in a beautiful sub-alpine lake setting. There is a water supply, flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers).


 

 

 


 

 

 



Routeburn Falls Hut - Routeburn Track



Routeburn Falls Hut - Routeburn Track

This 48-bunk DOC hut has a communal sleeping layout and provides flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers). Also log fire heating, solar lighting in the communal kitchen area, cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating.


 

 

 

Availability

The Routeburn Track is very popular and there are limited places in the DOC huts. Therefore, you will have to book quite far in advance in order to be successful for the dates you require, especially if you wish to travel in the height of the season which is Jan/Feb. The Great Walks season runs from October to April. To avoid disappointment please plan your trip well in advance. (At least 6-12 months). You must be certain about your preferred dates when you book as no changes can be made later. 


Please be aware that we will not be able to fully confirm your trip until the New Zealand Department of Conservation opens up the bookings for the DOC Huts, which generally happens in June every year for the following season.  Our local partners will make sure to book your space as soon as they are able.


This walk is not available outside of the Great Walks season to our customers for a variety of reasons, but mainly because outside of these dates the huts are not bookable (they are first-come first-served), do not have DOC rangers present and facilities are also greatly reduced.


Why not try one of our alternate walks of New Zealand as well, such as the Kepler, Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte or Kaikoura Coastal Track.


Time of Year

The best time of year to walk the Routeburn Track is in the Great Walks season, which is from October to April in New Zealand's spring, summer and autumn months. The weather will be more settled during these times of year, although it can be unpredictable at any time of year. Also when staying at the DOC Huts there will be a warden here during this time and also more facilities available.


Meals

Breakfast will be provided by your accommodation in Te Anau. Whilst hiking on the Routeburn Track, a delicious and easy to prepare food package is included just for you with local foods which are full of great taste and satisfaction, nutrition, and minimal waste. The food items chosen are lightweight, as you will be carrying this food yourself.


Your food package will be delivered to your accommodation in Te Anau the day before you start walking the track. Also included are cooking utensils, plates, a cooking pot, etc in order for you to prepare the food in the huts, where there are gas cookers.(There are no catering services in the huts)


Grade & Terrain

Some sections of this walk are steep and rough, which is why it has been rated moderate. The elevation gains and losses are not too significant and the daily distances not too far.


The surface is usually gravel, rock or dirt, and like any track can get muddy and slippery in wet weather. Poor weather conditions can make this walk more challenging than usual, even in the Great Walks season.


Most rivers and waterways on these tracks have sturdy bridges. Occasionally there are also small streams that cross the track but are usually easy enough to step across safely. Be aware that in wet weather rivers can rise very quickly and flood the tracks.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The Routeburn Track can be walked in both directions. However we recommend beginning the walk at The Divide and walking from south to north, finishing at the Routeburn Shelter, as there is less uphill in this direction and the logistics work really well for the best use of your time. The views are incredible in both directions.


The track is well-marked and signposted so you should not have a problem finding your way. GPX tracks are also accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone if you wish.


Baggage Transfers

On this tour you will have to carry your own gear for the walk on the track, including your sleeping bag and liner, included food and cooking utensils.  Given that most customers are likely to be taking part in this walk as part of other travels in New Zealand, we provide everyone with a good quality lightweight Osprey rucksack and cover for the walk as part of the package. You can choose to bring your own rucksack should you wish, but if you do so, it must be of a minimum 50 litres capacity. Since you will have to carry your own pack we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to pack light! Please note that we can arrange to have your remaining luggage stored for you during the trip for a small fee should this be required.


Car Rental

If you wish to rent a car, please contact your Destination & Adventure Specialist.


Equipment

We can provide you with the following good-quality equipment locally if you do not wish to bring your own.


Adjustable Osprey pack and pack cover, Sea to Summit sleeping bag and liner, rain jacket and pants, cooking/eating utensils, first aid kit, inflatable pillow, hot drink thermos.


These items can be lent to you for your convenience and therefore you will not need to take these things to New Zealand with you. Please see your information pack which has more details on what to take with you on the track.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. On this tour we can provide you with the essential equipment for this tour locally.

Getting to Te Anau

By Air: You can fly into and out of Queenstown Airport. Some international airlines fly into Queenstown, including Qantas and Air New Zealand. However you can also take a domestic flight from any of the larger airports such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. From Queenstown you can either pick up a rental car and drive to Te Anau (2H) or you can take a bus. You can take a bus direct from the airport (2H15) but they only leave twice day. Check the timetable on the Intercity website.


Getting from Queenstown


You can either drive to Queenstown in your rental car, which has been relocated for you or take the included bus transfer from the last point of your walk, the Routeburn Shelter to Queenstown. As explained above there is an airport in Queenstown which you may fly out of if you are taking an immediate onward journey.


 


* Please be aware that when booking flights from the UK to New Zealand you will arrive 2 days after you set off and on return you will arrive 1 day after you set off. So, for example, if you leave on a Tuesday you will arrive on a Thursday and on return if you leave on a Saturday you will arrive home on the Sunday. This is obviously because of the time it takes to get there but also because you are travelling back and forth across the International Date Line.  Similar principles apply when travelling from other places in Europe and from the USA and Canada. Please make sure that when you book you take this into consideration so that you are arriving on the correct day that the tour begins.


Included

  • 1 Night in a B&B, 2 Nights in DOC (Department of Conservation) Huts
  • Personalised food package (for the 2 walking days)
  • Breakfast in Te Anau
  • A transfer to and from start and finish points (by bus) from Te Anau and to Queenstown or car relocation if you are renting a car
  • Gear and Food drop off in Te Anau
  • Information pack, Track information, Track Care Package
  • Quality equipment (i.e. sleeping bag and liner, rucksack, etc)
  • Access to the Macs Smartphone App with GPS Tracks
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Te Anau
  • Travel from Queenstown
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal necessities
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s)
  • Additional nights
  • Rental Car

How far in advance do I need to book?

As the Routeburn Track is one of the most popular walks in New Zealand and there are limited places in the DOC huts in order to avoid disappointment please plan your trip well in advance. (At least 6-12 months). You must be certain about your preferred dates when you book as no changes can be made later.

How fit do I need to be?

Some sections of this walk are steep and rough, which is why it has been rated moderate. However you will only be walking for 2 days in total.

How do the baggage transfers work?

On this tour you will be carrying your own rucksack. You may either bring your own or we can provide a good quality lightweight borrowed Osprey rucksack and cover which may be used whilst on the trek. You can take just what you need for the 3 day walk, including your sleeping bag and liner (bring your own or borrowed) and your provided food. Since you will have to carry your own pack we cannot emphasise enough to pack light! For a fee we can arrange to have other luggage stored for you whilst you are trekking, or if you have a rental car you can leave your other luggage inside it.

What equipment do I need?

We can provide you with the following good-quality equipment locally if you do not wish to bring your own.

Adjustable Osprey pack and pack cover, Sea to Summit sleeping bag and liner, rain jacket and pants, cooking/eating utensils, first aid kit, inflatable pillow, hot drink thermos.

These items can be lent to you for your convenience and therefore you will not need to take these things to New Zealand with you. Please see your information pack which has more details on what to take with you on the track.

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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