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Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut: Routeburn Track Day 1

Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut: Routeburn Track Day 1

The 3-4 hour walk from Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut is a relaxing way to start a multiday hike. You’ll follow a pristine river (The Routeburn) through the forest and then head above the valley for some awesome views. Keep reading for everything you need to know about day 1 of the Routeburn Track!

Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut

I’ll be writing a proper post about how to plan for the Routeburn Track, so there won’t be many details in these ones. The aim is to show you what you’ll see on each day of the Routeburn Track, and the start of day one is an easy stroll through the forest. Right at the start of the track you’ll cross a scenic bridge, and after that you’ll only get an occasional view of the river.

It’s worth taking the two-minute detour to Forge Flat, as this is one of the only spots you’ll be able to access the river.

From there it’s an easy walk to Routeburn Flats Hut. It’s actually a slight detour from the main track, but I’d recommend checking it out even if you’re not staying there. It’s the most open part of the track thus far and provides some great valley views.

Routeburn Flats Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut

It’ll take most people 2-2.25 hours to reach Routeburn Flats Hut, and from there it’s another hour or so up the hill to Routeburn Falls Hut. This is the hut that most people will stay at if doing the Routeburn Track in three days. This is the first proper uphill section so take it slow if you’re struggling with a heavy bag. There are occasional views on this part of the track, and close to the top there’s a slip / clearing where you’ll get an amazing view of the Routeburn Valley below.

Routeburn Falls Hut

This marks the end of day 1 for most people, but if you’re there early you’ll want to explore a bit. The hut itself is in a nice location with a view down to the valley. Head up the track for another few minutes and you’ll see Routeburn Falls, a sprawling set of cascades crashing down the hill. There are lots of different photo spots around the falls and apparently people were even swimming in there (it must have been freezing).

John, the hut warden, told us of another viewpoint above the valley but we ran out of time (and energy) to visit it. We spent about 45 minutes up by the waterfall and then returned to the hut to cook our dinner for the night. Day 1 of the Routeburn Track was a success and pretty easy for a Great Walk – day 2 would be tougher though!

Can you do this as a day walk?

Yes! I’ll be writing more about this in the future, but the walk to Routeburn Falls and back would be an excellent day walk option. It should take 5-6 hours and as you can see, the views are well worth it. You could also do the day walk to Key Summit at the other end of the track, but more on that later!

Are you planning on walking the Routeburn Track? Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!

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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.

Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park
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