Fiordland National Park

Iris Burn Hut to Rainbow Reach: Kepler Track Day 3

Day 3 of the Kepler Track, from Iris Burn Hut to Rainbow Reach, mostly takes you through the forest and is a bit more low-key than the first two days. That doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting or easy though! It’s a long day of walking (you can spend an extra day at Moturau Hut, as many do) but I reckon it’s good to get it all done in three days.

Iris Burn Hut to Rocky Point Shelter

We had organised a pickup at Rainbow Reach at 4 pm, and the track info told us it’d take anywhere from 6.5 hours – 8 hours. The track starts off in the bush, but soon you’ll reach a clearing where you’ll get some amazing views of the valley your walking through. Savour the views, as they’ll soon be covered by the forest.

READ MORE: Check out our posts about day 1 and day 2 of the Kepler Track

I say that like it’s a bad thing, but the forest on this part of the track is particularly beautiful (or maybe it was the fact that the sun was finally out!). Rocky Point Shelter is a good place to stop for a bite to eat, and from there it should take 2.5 – 3 hours to walk to Moturau Hut.

Rocky Point Shelter to Moturau Hut

There’s a decent sized hill to tackle soon after Moturau Hut, but after that it’s smooth sailing all the way. Again, this isn’t the most exciting bit of track and if you’re pushing on to Rainbow Reach, you’re probably just keen for it all to be over.

The track eventually reaches the shores of Lake Manapouri, which some say is the most beautiful lake in New Zealand (check out our post about the Doubtful Sound cruise for better photos of Lake Manapouri). From there it’s an easy walk to Moturau Hut, which sits close to the lake. If you’re doing the Kepler Track in 4 days this is where you’ll spend your last night, and it seems like a great place to stay.

Moturau Hut to Rainbow Reach

The home stretch! It only takes 1.5 – 2 hours to walk from Moturau Hut to Rainbow Reach, but it can be a bit of a slog. I was exhausted by this point, but we had to walk quickly to make our pickup (which we’d moved to 3 pm). There’s a wetland thing to see along the way, but it’s not the most exciting bit of track. At 2.45 pm it still felt like we had a while to go, so I started running! We made it with about 5 minutes to spare in the end, and it was such a relief.

We hadn’t done a multiday hike in 5 years (W Trek in Patagonia was our last) and it was harder than I expected. The big pack and the weather made it was tougher than any day walk I’ve done in New Zealand, but looking back (I’m writing this a few days after finishing) it was a good experience. I’ll be writing a lot more about this track in my upcoming post, which will give you heaps of information about booking, transport costs, packing lists and heaps more.

Kepler Track Day 3 Details

  • Distance walked: Around 25 km
  • Time Spent: 6.5 hours
  • Elevation: Day 3 of the Kepler Track is mostly flat or downhill — there are a couple of uphill sections but nothing like the first two days.

Did this post put you off doing a multiday hike in Fiordland National Park? Check out these awesome day hikes instead! Key Summit, Lake Marian, Gertrude Saddle.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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