The Milford Track is New Zealand's most famous tramping route and is one of the most famous walking tracks in the world. It is located in stunning scenery amidst mountains and temperate rain forest in Fiordland National Park in the southwest of the South Island.
The track spans a distance of 53.5 km starting at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishing at Milford Sound at Sandfly Point. Because of the terrain it is very important to have good sturdy footwear, tramping boots are a must.
I have never hired to anyone that didn’t like the Milford Track - regardless of the weather, if it is really wet there are 100’s of extra waterfalls which make for great photos.
The Lake Te Anau end of the track is usually reached by a ferry. But an alternative route is available by climbing over Dore Pass from the Milford Sound road although this should only be attempted with an ideal weather forecast and experienced trampers only (it takes at least 6 hours).
At the other end of the track, Sandfly Point can only be reached by the sea, either sea kayaking or the regular ferry which runs for trampers during the peak season.
Due to its fame, and its enormous popularity, the Milford is also one of the most highly regulated walking tracks in the world. If you plan to go between December and February you will need to book as soon as the bookings open which is usually May 1st.
The Kepler Track is a 60 kilometre loop right beside Lake Te Anau, you can start and finish hiking in Te Anau. There are also water taxis and shuttle options to and from the track.
The Kepler is a really good track to do if you only have a few days around Fiordland; often the weather is better on the Kepler than the Milford or Routeburn because you are on the east of the main divide.
It is also not as expensive due to the transport costs being cheaper if the budget doesn’t stretch to the Milford or Routeburn tracks.
The Kepler gives panoramic views out to the big mountains of Fiordland and to Lake Manapouri (the second deepest lake in NZ) and Lake Te Anau ( the second biggest in NZ).
An easy tramping track (or hike if you prefer), it usually takes three nights to complete. In the long summer hours it is easily attainable to do the track in 2 nights.
The Kepler Challenge run sees competitors complete the whole track in 4:37 - 12+ hours! I’ve finished the event 20+ times, as well as walking the Kepler with friends and family so if you have questions about running or walking the Kepler - just ask!
Customers tramping the Kepler can leave cars parked at Bev's Hire and walk to the start of the track - the “Control Gates”.
The Kepler is one of the more exposed tramps around Fiordland, you really need to take emergency gear. Take a storm proof rain jacket and overtrousers even in a good forecast as conditions can change very quickly. Yes of course our parkas are up to the task!
The Routeburn Track is a 32km Great Walk which is usually walked in 3 or 4 days. Most walkers find the track quite manageable in 3 days, which is what I recommend.
I enjoy hiking the Routeburn track as you are out on the alpine tops for a full day. When the weather is good you get fantastic views down the Hollyford Valley right out to the Tasman Sea. The alpine vegetation is also interesting with many different species in flower throughout the summer.
Because of this alpine exposure you need to make sure you have waterproof and windproof layers, jacket and overtrousers are essential. As for any tramping trip in New Zealand take a warm hat and a pair of gloves, ideally made out of wool or fleece. If the weather looks at all stormy or you are tramping in winter I would highly recommend taking a balaclava to protect your face from the wind and cold.
The Routeburn and Earland Falls are both amazing in flood if you are lucky enough for rain! Don’t forget your parka when visiting them!
If weather permits it is worth doing a side trip up Conical Hill from Harris Saddle. You can leave your pack in the emergency shelter while you hike up to get more breathtaking panoramic views around Fiordland and Aspiring National Parks.
Much of the Routeburn Track is also accessible to day hikers, especially Key Summit on the western (Te Anau) end, the site of a popular viewpoint and nature walk not far from the roadway.
Gear hired from me can be sent to or back from Queenstown using Tracknet.
Note also that Track Hopper can be used to shuttle your car from one end to another, handy!