We're only three trails into our 9 Great Walks in 9 Weeks and we're already wondering if the Kepler Track is going to be the best, it's that good. Situated in the stunning Fiordland National Park, the trail meanders through beautiful forest before reaching a ridge line with million dollar views. Almost all of day two is also spent traversing the most spectacular ridges we have ever walked. Day three and four are back in the forest and with more ferns than you can possibly imagine on one track.
But don't just take our word for it, see our photos below.
Day 1: Forest and a steep climb
The first day of the Kepler starts in a beautiful forest, winding through beech trees and ferns on the shore of Lake Te Anau. In many places in the world, this would be a stunning walk all of its own.
The ridge at Luxmore Hut
This is where the million dollar views begin, and last for all of day two as well. As soon as you've climbed the 900m above the bush line, the views open up. You are surrounded by panoramic views of the mountain ranges, and both Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. It's worth taking your time (you've earned it after the big climb) to drink it all in, it's truly special.
Luxmore Hut: the Hut with 5 star views
In any other place in the world, Luxmore Hut would be replaced with a 5 star hotel charging over $1,000 a night. However, you can book up a $65 dorm bed and enjoy one of the best views you'll get anywhere in the world.
Day 2: the hike over the ridges
The trail continues dazzling with the spectacular views, winding up and down the ridgelines and eventually descending to Iris Burn. If you want to feel like you're hiking on the top of the world, then this is the track for you. It's also a great place to spot the world's only alpine parrot, the Kea. It's endangered but they love coming to check out what you are having for lunch at the Hanging Valley shelter.
Down to Iris Burn
You'll be disappointed to leave the ridge line but you can console yourself that it is to enter a really spectacular patch of forest. Watch the vegetation change as you descend. Finish off your day with a bone chilling dip in the beautiful Iris Burn waterfall, just 20 minutes from the hut. Or if you're a bit wimpy like us maybe just a paddle!
Day 3: A very wet walk to Moturua Hut
Ok, this is where the inspiring gets hard! On our hike to Moturua Hut, we were blasted with 90mm of rain that made photography pretty difficult! It's not that it wasn't utterly beautiful, it's just the we couldn't do it justice in all that rain.
Our spirits were lifted by a lively hut talk from the hut warden when she picked up the guitar and regaled us with songs about historical figures in New Zealand!
Day 4: the walk back
The final day meandered through the forest once more and let in some gorgeous golden light whilst the trail passed over the Waiau River. Despite having hiked 45km already, it was well worth hiking the 15km more back to the Kepler Car Park.
Have you hiked any of the Great Walks in New Zealand? Would you hike the Kepler Track? Let us know in the comments below!