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Has anyone here hiked the Routeburn Track in New Zealand?

If so, can you tell me about your experience. We are starting to plan the Next Big Trip and thinking of stepping beyond Europe. I have found the website for planning and reserving the DOC huts but the logistics seem a bit daunting. I also found a website for a guided hike staying in private lodges rather than the huts. it is more expensive of course,, but not dauntingly so. Just wondering if anyone has done the self-cater/hut option and how tough it was to plan and carry out.

Posted by
9110 posts

Make the reservations (absolutely necessary in summer) and go. Two days only was a mean hump. Plan on spending two nights, minimally.

For some reason, I started at Te Anau. Look at a profile - - the other way might be easier.

With limited time, I'd probably skip the walk and spend the time just driving around the Southern Alps and getting down to Stewart Island.

Posted by
2762 posts

Thank you, Ed. I saw on another thread you advised skipping the part of South Island north of Christchurch. Does that include Abel Tasman? Photos make it look very appealing for kayaking in beautiful clear water.

We are thinking of three weeks in December (home by Christmas) or January, almost all of it on the South Island. If we include Abel Tasman, we will still have two weeks with a car (picked up at Christchurch) to explore the mountains, including Arthur's Pass, Mt. Cook, the area around Queenstown ( including Routeburn Track), and whatever else we can cover. Hubby will have an interview at Dunedin at some point so we will have to go there too. Probably will include some coast at that point.

Mainly trying to figure out logistics for the Routeburn. Hubby want to do the guided trip with lodge stays ( and showers), and they make it easy with pickup and return to Queenstown. I've read about the need for secure parking if one leaves a car at the trailhead (vandals? animals? No idea but there are ads stressing the importance of secure guarded parking. And then we would have to book transport from the finish back to the start to retrieve the car. So I am having trouble making a case for self catering and staying in huts as independent hikers.

Posted by
9110 posts

The other thread was a guy trying to see the Pacific in an afternoon - - I was attempting concentration/focus. There is no part of New Zealand that won't knock your socks off, but the Southern Alps gets to me the most - - every time you go around a curve it looks completely different. I think you're concentrating in the right area.

I'm no expert on the Routeburn. We'd just done the Doubtful excursion (most excellent) and were still in Te Anau when I heard about the thing. Herself gave me two days off while she went whale watching on the Pacific side. It was a great walk, but would have been better with some planning and knowledge. I came across only one group that was guided, but barely spoke to them since they were poking along.

In several trips we've left cars all over the place without incident. The only thing I can think of is that somewhere in the mountains down south there's a kind of parrot that comes in droves. Stop for a minute and they're all over the car plucking every piece of rubber window and door stuff they can.

Posted by
1829 posts

We travel to NZ for a 10 week trip (Jan - March) every 3 years and one area we always visit is the top of the South Island. Could be that it claims to be the sunniest spot in NZ and coming from winter in Northern Europe that is a big attraction! Also beautiful landscapes and some nice beaches. Abel Tasman especially and it is easy to set up walks in the National Park. We have only done a couple of easy stretches using the boat service from Kaiteriteri which drops you off/picks you up along the way.

http://www.abeltasman.co.nz/

Posted by
1525 posts

I was in New Zealand doing walks in March last year (2013) and it was fantastic. I wound up doing the Kepler trail in its entirety. I had intended to do the Routeburn and a 2-day "in and out" because I had a car rental and couldn't figure the logistics of starting on one side and coming out the other. But wound up abandoning the idea when the area received a deluge of almost a foot of rain. So I have vowed to go back for the Routeburn. I would recommend the Kepler to anyone, but the Routeburn is probably a tad more "wow" factor. I also did the Able Tasman coastal walk, and while it was nice, frankly the lower rainforest areas of the Kepler were nicer, to say nothing of the higher areas above the tree line. If I were doing the Abel Tasman again, I would try kayaking most of it instead of walking. The DOC web sites are very comprehensive and have everything you need to know, including distances, elevations, public transport and lodgings.

The huts are basic, with matresses, water, cook-tops, and a bit of heat in the main room as the only amenities (and killer views). You bring your own food, which isn't as hard as it sounds. Some people buy pre-packaged dehydrated meals, but I just brought bread, cheese, cured sausage, some trail mix, fruit, carrots, and chocolate. You will need a small sleeping bag. Unless it's unusually warm, people just sleep with their regular clothes on because the sleeping rooms are chilly (50ºF give or take).

You can check out my blog if you like. Click on my name for the address and once there, find the little tabs on the right to navigate back to March/April of last year....

Posted by
2762 posts

Thanks Ed, Linda, and randy. This is a big help!

I too have heard of the birds that attack parked cars and eat the rubber weatherstripping and maybe tires. I think they are called keas? This is one reason we are thinking of a guided walk for the Routeburn track. We could leave the rental car in Queensland where it should be safer from marauding birds! I know the guided walks are much more expensive but we are flying to NZ for free with miles so can spend our travel money on other things.