New Zealand - South Island

My wife and I (60's) are planning to visit NZ for 3 weeks and Tasmania for 2 weeks. We would like to do three treks in NZ, while we are there; 3 - 6 day in length for each. We are experience hikers and carry 30-40 pound packs at altitude, so we feel we are up for challenges. We have backpacked around the world and are now planning a New Zealand / Tasmania trip. We are up for camping, if required, or hiking/tramping hut to hut and cooking our own food! Guide is not necessary, but sometimes worth it to learn more about the area. Any suggestions are welcome. We like it where there is less people and the challenge gives you amazing scenery!
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Over-priced in my opinion. I think a lot of 'tourist' things are. But, when are you coming back this way again ?. And it might be a pittance to somebody who flys half-the World to get here. The day after heavy rain is best as all the waterfalls are 'on'. Mt Cook's neat. Valley walk is a doddle after doing the Kepler or any 'serious' tramp. Leave your boots. Wear comfortable runners. Take water & a snack. Tasman Glacier view is just a brief scramble up a high bank of the Tasman Valley lake. Lakeside walk is a bit longer. You can book a trip onto the lake in outboard dinghys, but check to see if there's any ice bergs first or it ain't really worthwhile. Might want to tackle the Meuller Hut 'Stairway to Heaven' track ?. Not much harder than the descent to Iris Burn hut on the Kepler. There was a bench seat at the top if you don't go further to the Hut (must be pre-booked if you want to stay). Take water. Hermitage might be worth a visit one night. Buffet dinner is a bit dear, but the pastry chef was pretty good. Beats another night of de-hy. YHA Mt Cook is a cosy place to stay. Book a double/twin room well ahead. Mt Cook road is a 1 hour drive off the main highway. Avoid having to buy petrol at Mt Cook village. Just before Lake Tekapo is the road to Mt John observatory. There's a cafe & toilets up there. The view is worth it.
thank you for your information, now what do you think about Mt. Cook area? Hooker valley, Tasman Glacier view track? Is the boat ride on milford sound a "must do" ?
Yes, I do think a boat ride at Milford is a must do. There's a few options for them. Pro-active mentioned the overnight one above (you can go kayaking in the fjord on that one), and there are the regular ones that go up and down the fjord for a couple of hours. I recommend one of the ones that goes right out past the mouth of the fiord, and the underwater observatory is pretty neat to visit as well. If you can, book one of the smaller boats (you used to be able to pick which boat you went on but this was about a decade ago when I last did it), the smaller ones go right under the waterfalls so that the falls land on the deck, and you don't have the multi-language commentary blathering away non stop in Madarin and Japanese. Either go on one of the ~10am cruises or the late afternoon cruises to avoid the hoards arriving via bus direct from Queenstown around midday. Mt Cook is worth a visit. Mueller Hut is a steep climb up but worth a stay (very busy during summer). If you take a tent and have good weather camping on the Annette Plateau (camping on snow!) is a great way to escape the crowds. The Hooker and Tasman walks are little day walks of a couple of hours tops, the Hooker in particular is very scenic. You can go boating/kayaking on the Tasman if you book in advance. Not a lot of point in going there if the weathers though. You can see whats going on up there from Twizel or the bottom of Lake Pukaki.
what sequence should we do the milford, kepler and routeburn treks? They say the milford is a 4 day 3 night trek staying at clinton, mintaro and dumpling huts Kepler 4 day, 3 night staying at Iris Burn, Luxmore and Moturan Huts Routeburn 2-4 days staying at routeburn falls, lake mackenzie and lake howden Does that sound right? is there any way that we can cut out any of these huts without making life miserable , which we do not want to do! we would rather enjoy the trip and experience thank you very much for any advise and info
The Milford track has to be done like that. You are in batches of 40 if fully booked. 40 people had the hut before you & 40 people are coming in a day behind you. Because you choose your leaving time, pace & stops, the group soon strings out. You can do the Kepler & Routeburn either way, but most do the Kepler anti-clockwise, starting with Luxmore Hut. You can skip Moturau if you have a pick-up at Rainbow Reach rd. Or if you find you are travelling significantly faster than the DOC suggested times, I've found Control Gate carpark is only a few hours further on. But a night at Moturau makes the whole trip easier paced. You could do the Milford and be dropped off at the start of the Routeburn on your way back to Te Aanu, if that fits your plans ?. You might find the Milford easier than the Kepler ?. Milford has Mackinnon Pass, which isn't too bad if you're fit/experienced. Kepler has an ascent to Luxmore Hut, but the second day is also a significant uphill gradient finishing with a rapid descent to Iris Burn. Tourists do it straight off the plane. People run the track in a day often & regularly. But it might be a consideration in your sequencing ?. You might find Kepler more taxing than Milford. edit- Yarmoss gave a suggested itinerary on his page 1 post. He's from down that way.
Yup, Milford has to be done 3 nights/4 days. You cant change that. Kepler is a circuit which can be done in either direction, but the recommended way is anti-clockwise (Control Gates->Luxmore->Iris Burn->Moturau->Rainbow Reach/Control Gates). Tracknet and Trips & Tramps each run a shuttle between Te Anau, the Control Gates, and Rainbow Reach so its up to you if you want to come out early at Rainbow Reach or walk all the way back to Te Anau (there is a track that goes along the lake shore from the DOC office in town to the Control Gates). 2 nights/3 days is standard, coming out at Rainbow Reach. Its about 35km from Iris Burn back to town by foot, a long haul but doable. Staying at Motarau is optional but is a good way to break up that distance if you want to walk back to the Control Gates or Te Anau. The Routeburn track is only 32km long. It is normally walked in 2 nights/3days but it is fairly easy to do it in 1 night/2days. You can walk the whole entire track in about 11 hours if you want. There is little reason to stay at Howden or Routeburn Flats huts unless Lake Mackenzie or Routeburn Falls huts are full (they often are) or you are starting walking late in the day.
thank you very much for the information and your time to help us with this epic trip! We were thinking about spending 4 days in the Mt cook area, doing the stairway to heaven and staying at the Mueller hut (the reservations start June 11 with the milford hut) we will then do day hikes around the mt cook area. Good idea??? What do you think about the Paparoa National Park area? Ballroom hike?
should we go directly from the milford hike to the routeburn or should we go back to Te Anau after Milford, spend the night ,wash and restock food and go to the routeburn the next day? Is there transportation from the end of the Milford to routeburn? and then transportation from the end of the routeburn back to Te Anau? shoud we do the routeburn from the divide to the shelter or the shelter to the divide?
I'm always an advocate of a day of rest after a multi-day tramp before beginning another multi-day tramp. It clears your head, gives your body a chance to heal, and allows you to process what you've just experienced. Otherwise, it can become a grind to the body and a blur in the mind. Besides, hanging out with a glass of wine, relaxing and enjoying your surroundings is part of the fun, in my opinion. If you're combining the big 3 you've mentioned (Milford, Routeburn, Kepler), I would base myself in Te Anau. If that is your base, I recommend walking the Routeburn from the Divide to the Shelter. Starting from the Shelter requires you to swing around through Q-town up to Glenorchy then Paradise. Transportation will not be a problem. As has been mentioned on this thread, many operators run shuttles through the area. Ring them up and have a chat with them; most operators are very accommodating. Both Aoraki/Mount Cook and Paparoa NP are amazing places. Expect @ 10 hours drive from Te Anau to Paparoa along the coastal SH6. Expect 5-6 hours from TA to Mt Cook, then another 5-6 hours from MC to Paparoa along SHs 8 and 73. The Ballroom is a large rock overhang that is accessed by walking up, and mostly in, the Fox River. There is no hut at the Ballroom; you'll need a tent. Keep in mind that each of the above forays may require 4 days of your itinerary: 1 to drive there; 1 to walk in; 1 to walk out; 1 to drive elsewhere.
thank you again for your time and thoughts. Is it worth going to Paparoa ? or do you have any other suggestions? We will do the 3 hikes from Te Anau and go to Mt cook area but we are open for suggestions.
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Forum Beginners and newbies
Started by Robert Brosko
On 11 May 2019
Replies 31
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