The Kepler Track is one of 9 “Great Walks” in New Zealand. It’s a 3-4-day hike through mossy forests, mountain ridges and green valleys and, to be honest, it was pretty hard. I won’t go into too many details here though (I’ll be writing another post for all those) – this is just to show you a little of what you can see on day 1 of the Kepler Track – Te Anau to Luxmore Hut. You can also walk this track in the opposite direction, although I wouldn’t recommend it. That’ll all be covered in my big Kepler Track post!
Te Anau to the Control Gates
You can walk from Te Anau to the Control Gates (Kepler Track Car Park) in an hour or so, but if you want to save a bit of time you can organise transport or drive there yourself (although that means leaving your car there for a few days). We booked transport through Tracknet.
Control Gates to Brod Bay
Our Kepler Track experience started on a rainy Saturday morning. Rain is common in Fiordland National Park and I can almost guarantee you’ll get caught in it at some point. The key is to prepare well!
There isn’t too much to see between the Control Gates and Brod Bay. The track cuts through the forest, which is nice enough, and before long you’ll get some shelter at Brod Bay. The rain was getting heavy at this point, so we rested up for about an hour (watching an episode of Seinfeld to pass the time) but eventually had to keep moving!
Brod Bay to the Bush line
This section of the Kepler Track day 1 was probably my least favourite of the whole walk. The track heads steadily uphill and the rain wasn’t relenting. Add in the fact I was struggling a bit with my big pack (we almost exclusively do day walks these days) and it was an unpleasant couple of hours. There were some bluffs to see (big rocks), but that was about it.
The Bush line to Luxmore Hut
The rain started to ease as we emerged out of the forest, and from there it was an enjoyable walk above Lake Te Anau all the way to Luxmore Hut. You’ll notice the tussocks and other colourful subalpine plants, which also feature heavily on day 2 of the Kepler Track, as well as the views over Lake Te Anau, the town and nearby farmland.
As Luxmore Hut looms, the views get even better. We were lucky that the sun finally decided to come out too – suddenly the decision to do the Kepler Track wasn’t looking so bad (I definitely had second thoughts an hour or two earlier).
Luxmore Hut sits at 1000 metres above sea level and looks out over Lake Te Anau. The views are incredible, and you’ll want to walk around a bit to get some different angles. The hut itself is a cool place to be – there’s a big common room with heaps of seating and kitchen space, and there are a few places to sit outside (if it isn’t too cold).
Kea visit often, and they might even come right up to you. We saw this one just hanging out right outside the hut. If you’re not too tired the next morning I’d recommend getting up to see the sunrise — the area around Luxmore Hut looks stunning in the early morning light (Gia took one for the team — I was way too tired / comfortable to get up).
A 20-30 minute side trip from Luxmore Hut takes you up to Luxmore Caves. It’s a great detour – even if you’re not interested in caves, I’d go for the views alone (especially if you get a break in the weather).
The cave entrance is cool if there’s sunlight pouring in, and you can walk a little way into the cave quite easily. I didn’t go too far though as it was looking pretty wet down there. Bring a headtorch if you’re heading into the cave, but you won’t need one if you just want to see the first bit.
Te Anau to Luxmore Hut Info
- Distance Walked: Around 14 km, a little more if going to the cave.
- Time Spent: It took us just under 7 hours, but that was with a big break at Brod Bay.
- Elevation gain: Luxmore Hut is at around 1000 metres above sea level, and you start around 100 masl. The steepest part is the section between Brod Bay and the bush line.
Are you planning on walking the Kepler Track? Check out our post about day 2, from Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut!
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