Published: April 9, 2015
View a description of the Kepler Track during the Great Walks season, including distances, estimated walking times and optional side trips.
Panoramic view of the Kepler Mountains with the Kepler Track shown on the left
What to expect
Great Walk tracks are of a higher standard than most other tracks so are well formed and easy to follow. The tracks are usually quite wide depending on the terrain – some fit two people walking side by side in flat areas.
The surface is usually gravel, rock or dirt, and like any track can get slippery in wet weather.
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.
There are hill climbs where the track becomes steeper, which is all the better for views.
Children and youth
- Children under 15 years must be with an adult.
- Alpine sections of the Kepler Track are not recommended for children under 10 years.
- Also see: Children and families in Fiordland.
The Kepler Track (60 km) starts and finishes at the Kepler Track carpark, off Golf Course Road, Te Anau. You can walk the whole track in either direction in 3 or 4 days, depending on your fitness, skills and weather conditions.
This map shows the Kepler Track from where it starts and finishes at the Kepler Carpark. The hill profile image below gives you an idea of the steepness of the track at each stage.
The Kepler Track also offers great day walking opportunities from the Kepler Track carpark or Rainbow Reach, for families or those with limited time.
Kepler Track carpark to Dock Bay and Brod Bay (1–3 hours return)
Kepler Track carpark to Luxmore Hut (8–10 hours return)
Kepler Track carpark to Rainbow Reach (2.5 hours one way)
Rainbow Reach to Shallow Bay or Moturau Hut (3–3.5 hours return)
Places to stay
You can stay in three huts (Luxmore Hut, Iris Burn Hut and Moturau Hut) and two campsites (Brod Bay and Iris Burn) on the Kepler Track.
Camping or staying overnight in the shelters at Forest Burn and Hanging Valley is not permitted.
Hut facilities over summer season (November to April)
- Plenty of bunks with mattresses (between 40 to 54) in a communal sleeping layout.
- Water supply, flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers).
- Heating with fuel available, and usually solar lighting in the main area.
- Cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating (but no cooking utensils).
- A friendly conservation ranger – they like to chat, they know the area well and can tell you about the environment and weather, or help out should an emergency arise.
Reduced hut facilities over winter season (May to October)
- Gas is not provided – you will need to bring your own cooking stove.
- Flush toilets are replaced with self-containment toilets.
- Running water is turned off inside the huts. Water can be obtained from the outside water tank, if this is frozen, then from the nearest water course or by melting snow.
- There are no conservation rangers based at the huts.
- Beds are on a first come basis only
Great Walk campsites are in scenic locations, and usually near huts. You cannot use the hut facilities, but at each campsite you will find:
- An open cooking shelter.
- Water supply tap.
- Clean toilet.
- A friendly hut warden (from the nearby hut during summer season) who may visit to chat and check campsite tickets.
Toilets are available at huts, campsites and shelters.
Trampers on the Kepler tops
Te Anau to Kepler Track carpark
45 min, 2 km
Start your journey on the lake side path outside the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre. Passing the Te Anau Wildlife Park, continue around the shores of Lake Te Anau to the Kepler Track carpark near the Lake Te Anau control gates, where there are toilet and picnic facilities.
Kepler Track carpark to Brod Bay
1 hr 30 min, 5.6 km
The track follows the lake shore through forest of mountain and red beech, with kamahi and some scattered rimu and miro. After passing an attractive grove of hard tree ferns and crown fern, Dock Bay is reached. Continue across the Coal Creek Bridge and follow the lake shore to Brod Bay. Brod Bay is a delightful place to swim and camp if you have had a late start. There is a shelter here, with tank water, picnic tables and two toilets. See Kepler Track: Carpark to Brod Bay.
Brod Bay Campsite
Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut
3 hr 30 min – 4 hr 30 min, 8.2 km
From Brod Bay the track climbs steadily for about two hours to limestone bluffs – an ideal lunch stop. After another hour’s climb the bush line is reached, providing panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin, Takitimu Mountains, and the Snowdon and Earl Mountains. Luxmore Hut (1085 m) is about a 45 minute walk from the bush line. This part of the track is marked by orange-topped snow poles, which are helpful in poor weather conditions.
Side trip – Luxmore Cave
The cave is a 10 minute walk from the hut and is clearly signposted. Indicate your intentions in the visitors’ book provided in the hut when visiting the cave. Each person should take a minimum of two light sources.
Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut
5–6 hr, 14.6 km
In heavy rain, strong winds or wintery weather, wait at Luxmore Hut until the weather improves.
The track climbs gradually from the hut to a ridge just below the summit of Mount Luxmore. A 10 minute side trip to the summit (1472 m) provides stunning panoramic views in fine weather. The track then descends to a shelter close to Forest Burn Saddle, where there is a small day shelter and toilet.
Beware of wind gusts when crossing the saddle.
The track sidles, climbs and follows a ridge system for about two hours to Hanging Valley Shelter. It then follows a long, open ridge toward the Iris Burn and descends through a series of zigzags into a hanging valley. The track winds its way through beautiful forest, with good views of a large natural landslide.
The Iris Burn Hut (497 m) is sited in a large tussock clearing. From Iris Burn Hut, a 20 minute stroll leads to Iris Burn Waterfall.
Iris Burn Hut
Iris Burn Campsite
Iris Burn Hut to Moturau Hut
Kepler Track in winter
5–6 hr, 16.2 km
Today is a steady day’s tramp through beech forest and a gorge, generally following the Iris Burn. The track climbs over a low saddle and wanders through mixed species forest to a large slip, formed during heavy rain in January 1984.
About 2 hours 30 minutes from the Iris Burn Hut is a work camp for track maintenance. Rocky Point Shelter is located just around the corner and is a good place for a lunch stop.
Below Rocky Point the track sidles through a gorge, coming out on river flats near the mouth of the Iris Burn. Nearing Lake Manapouri, the track turns left through lowland beech and podocarp forest. It follows the lake shore to Moturau Hut, situated beside a beautiful beach, with panoramic views of Lake Manapouri.
Moturau Hut to Rainbow Reach
1 hr 30 min – 2 hr, 6 km
The last day is a moderate stroll through beech forest to Rainbow Reach. The track crosses a wetland and the meandering Forest Burn, just above its outlet into Balloon Loop, an old part of the Upper Waiau River.
It then follows the Waiau River terrace to the swingbridge at Rainbow Reach. Walkers are able to catch a shuttle bus service to Te Anau from here.
Rainbow Reach to Kepler Track carpark
2 hr 30 min – 3 hr 30 min, 9.5 km
The track up river from Rainbow Reach is well worth walking for the variety of forest and river views. This section provides good opportunities for trout fishing and leads back to the Kepler Track carpark. See Kepler Track carpark to Rainbow Reach.
Kepler Track carpark to Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Return to Te Anau along the track from the Kepler Track carpark, through the Te Anau Wildlife Park, to the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.
The track takes 3-4 days to walk.
In the summer season you need to book huts and/or campsites on the track.
In the winter season you don’t need to book. However, you must buy (backcountry) hut and campsite tickets before your walk. You can buy these via any DOC visitor centre (but not online). During the winter season there are reduced facilities and additional safety hazards to consider. See Winter tramping.
You can choose to book transport between Te Anau and the nearby entry/exit points for the track – otherwise it’s a 50 min walk. There are car parks at the entrance and exit points and I have not had any problems with theft.
28 October 2014 to 29 April 2015
01 May 2015 to 26 October 2015