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I appreciate this forum and all information available! My wife and I are coming to NZ for the first time from the US. We’re trail runners and in good shape. I’m wondering if the following itenary is realistic for those that have been on these tracks: Day 1: fly to Queenstown and pick up tramping supplies. Day 2: drive to Makarora trail head (we have a rental car) and hike to Kerin Forks Hut and overnight there. Day 3: hike to Top Forks Hut and overnight there. Day 4: hike to Siberia Hut and overnight there. Day 5: hike back to Makarora trail head and drive back to Queenstown and overnight there. Day 6: drive to Rainbow Reach carpark near Te Anau and hike to Moturau Hut and overnight there. Day 7: hike to Iris Burn Hut and overnight there. Day 8: hike back to Rainbow Reach and drive back to Queenstown and overnight there. Day 9: fly out of Queenstown. Couple of additional questions: 1) is Top Forks Hut area worth a full day? 2) is there a better 2 night/3 day alternative tramp in the Queenstown area to doing part of the Kepler Track as outlined in days 6-8 above? Thanks so much for the feedback!
Just on the matter of the first leg to Kerin Forks. I would say the reason most people do that leg by Jet boat is that it is river walking without much forest cover. Getting across the Makarora is easier at the Young than at the Wilkin. You would likely need the jet boat anyway, just to get across to the Wilkin. Maybe consider going over Gillespie Pass. It is much more scenic and not particularly difficult. Otherwise, stick to your current agenda, get the boat to Kerin Forks and walk the 5 hrs to Top Forks in the first day. It will give you more time to visit the lakes at the top of the valley.
Great advice aardvark. Thanks so much!
Yes,Top Forks area is definately worth more than a day in/out visit. Once you're there you'll see why.A day is worth exploring the lakes (Castalia and Lucidus) and maybe another day walk up valley to view the Waterfall Face. You could save a day by jet boating in to Kerrin Forks otherwise its a long trudge up the Wilkin. I agree with Aardvark if you could also fit in the Gillespie Pass circuit,thats a great tramp.You'd need to reschedule your Queenstown plans though. Have a look at the Earnslaw Burn tramp near Glenorchy,that could be a good option rather than travelling over to do the Kepler stuff. Whatever you decide,you'll have a great time in NZ's back country.Good luck with the weather!
Thanks so much geoffnet! Thanks for confirming about Top Forks. We'll definitely spend more time there now. We may even scrap doing part of the Kepler Track. I'll do some research on Earnslaw too. Does anyone know if there is a place to park a car before the start of the Wilkin? The car would obviously be parked for several days. Thanks!
The jet boat company in Makarora will let you leave the car in their carpark, if you use their service. It isn't hard to park in Makarora. You can walk out of Makarora, down to the river. Earnslaw burn only has a rock bivvy. A good one. Otherwise you would need a tent. Generally you're only going to return the way you came in. If you particularly want to stay in a hut, you could park at Muddy Ck and head up the Rees to Shelter Rock hut. You would also walk out the way you came in. I would go up the Rees a short way to ascend to Kea basin. That is a superb rock bivvy at 1000m (virtually no sandflies at 1000m) on the route to Wright Col on Earnslaw. It is easy to ascend to Kea basin and you pass the old Earnslaw Hut on the way.
Awesome. Thanks aardvark. I’m planning on taking a tarp tent that I’ve used for several years backpacking in Colorado, so no Hut is required on this trip.
After the feedback from above, along with further research, we've altered our itinerary as follows: Day 1: fly to Queenstown and pick up tramping supplies. Day 2: drive to Young River trail head (or Blue Pools if river is too high to cross) and hike to Young Hut and overnight there. Day 3: hike to Siberia Hut and overnight there. Day 4: hike to Top Forks Hut and overnight there. Day 5: explore Top Forks Hut and overnight there again. Day 6: hike to Kerin Forks Hut and overnight there. Day 7: hike to trailhead/car and do some driving to see some NZ sights. Day 8: Undecided? Day 9: fly out of Queenstown. Based on the above revised itenerary, what would be within 3 to 4 hours of driving from the Wanaka area that would be worth visiting/viewing from a car? We're looking to fill day 8. Thanks so much!
I think you're overlooking Queenstown here. Day 8 options: 1. Tramp to Lake Alta (Remarkables). 2. Guided climb up Single Cone (highest point in the Remarkables). 3. Trip with TSS Earnslaw steamboat.
Awesome. Thanks Berend! I will also look at those options for filling day 8.
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