Introduction

Find out about the Routeburn Track between 7 December 2020 and 30 April 2021.

Routeburn Track is fully open

From 7 December 2020 to 30 April 2021, the full Routeburn Track from Routeburn Shelter to The Divide, is open.

Note: Lake Howden Hut is permanently closed. It was damaged in a storm in early 2020.

  • Track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough.
  • Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur.
  • DOC manages avalanche risk and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections.
  • Track is not recommended for children under the age of 10, due to the exposed  mountainous environment and often adverse weather conditions.

On this page:

Highlights

  • Wind through the Routeburn gorge along the crystal-clear Route Burn (river).
  • Follow the cascade of Routeburn Falls.
  • Take in spectacular views of the Hollyford valley and Darren Mountains.
  • Walk right past Earland Falls (174 m).

Explore on Google Street ViewWatch videos

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Routeburn River
Image: Keri Moyle ©

Walking options

The Routeburn Track can be walked in either direction.

Walk the full track. Most walkers take 3 days/2 nights usually staying at Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie Huts. The trip can be extended by also staying at other huts, or made into a circuit by linking with the Greenstone and Caples Tracks, which starts and finishes near the Routeburn Shelter.

Enjoy a day walk. Earland Falls Track | Key Summit Track | Lake Howden Track | Routeburn Nature Walk

Places to stay

There are 3 huts and 2 campsites, which must be booked well in advance during the Great Walks season.

Hut facilities

Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water. A DOC ranger is in residence. Huts do not have food, cooking utensils, showers or bedding.

Campsite facilities

Campsites have basic facilities including toilets, sinks and a water supply. Routeburn campsites have picnic tables and cooking shelters. Campers can't use hut facilities.

Fees and bookings

Huts

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $65 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $65 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $32.50 per person, per night
Campsites

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $20 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $20 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $10 per person, per night

New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate. Acceptable eligibility proof.
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

Bookings

Huts and campsites must be booked well in advance. We'll provide two weeks' notice of the date bookings will open. Book online

Getting there

Routeburn Track can be accessed from both ends: Routeburn Shelter, 25 km from Glenorchy along a partially unsealed road, and The Divide Shelter, 85 km from Te Anau.

The road distance between each end of the track is 325 km - transport is needed at each end.

Destination Fiordland and Destination Queenstown have information about transport operators.

What to take

To have a safe and enjoyable trip, it's essential you have the appropriate clothing and equipment. Find out what to take.

Know before you go

There are steep drop-off along sections of the whole track.

Weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Fiordland National Park experiences very high rainfall (up to 9000  mm per year) and weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. Be prepared for all conditions. Check the Fiordland National Park weather forecast (MetService website).

The risk of avalanche can extend into December. During the Great Walk season, DOC manages this risk to a low level and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections.

There is no cellphone coverage.

Your safety is your responsibility. Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to ensure you have a great trip and make it home.

Track description

Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut

Time: 1 hr 30 min – 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 7.5 km

The track begins at Routeburn Shelter, gently winding alongside the crystal-clear Route Burn (river). After passing Sugarloaf Stream, you’ll climb to Bridal Veil Waterfall and continue above the gorge. A swing bridge leads to open grassed flats, and the Routeburn Flats Hut and Campsite.

Route Burn on Google Street View

Routeburn Flats Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut

Time: 1 – 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 2.3 km

The track climbs steadily through stunning beech forest, providing views of the Humboldt Mountains. End the day at Routeburn Falls Hut, on the edge of the bushline and close to the impressive Routeburn Falls cascade.

Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut

Time: 4 hr 30 min – 6 hr
Distance: 11.3 km

Climb steadily up the valley, through wetlands and tussock-covered flats, before sidling along the bluffs above Lake Harris to reach the highest point on the track at Harris Saddle/TarahakaWhakatipu (1,255 m).

The track then descends and traverses along the exposed Hollyford Face, with expansive views over the Darran Mountains. This section of the track is well-known for its impressive array of alpine plants. A steady descent leads to Lake Mackenzie Hut, set beside the enchanting Lake Mackenzie.

Darren Mountains on Google Street View

Side trip: Conical Hill

Time: 1 hr 30 min – 2 hr return

A short, steep climb from the Harris Saddle up Conical Hill gives superb views of the Hollyford Valley through to Lake McKerrow and beyond to Martins Bay and the Tasman Sea.

Be aware:

  • Snow and ice can sometimes make this trip hazardous early and late into the Great Walks season.
  • Due to rock fall danger, observe the no stopping zones along this track.
Mackenzie Hut to The Divide

Time: 4 – 5 hr 30 min
Distance: 12 km

Leaving Lake Mackenzie Hut the track crosses a small flat before climbing to the bush line. A gradual descent then leads past the ‘Orchard’, an open grassyarea dotted with ribbonwood trees, to the impressive Earland Falls (174 m). The track continues its descent through beech forest to Lake Howden (Lake Howden Hut was destroyed by storm damage in February 2020). 

From Lake Howden, the well graded track climbs steadily for about 15 minutes to the Key Summit Track turn-off. From the Key Summit turn-off, the gradual downhill walk is through silver beech forest to The Divide on the Milford Highway. At 532 m, The Divide is the lowest crossing of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

Side trip: Key Summit

Time: 1 – 1 hr 30 min return

This popular walk climbs above the bushline to an alpine wetland and, in good weather, offers magnificent views of the Darran Mountains and the Hollyford valley. A self-guided alpine nature walk passes a range of native vegetation: beech forest, subalpine shrublands and alpine tarnsand bogs. Birdlife is prolific and tomtits, robins, New Zealand pigeons/kererū and bellbirds/korimako are commonly seen.

Earland Falls on Google Street View


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