Kepler Track Weather Guide For Hikers


By Kim Mackay-Wallace

4 minute read

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The Kepler Track, located in Fiordland National Park, is open year round, and is particularly popular in Great Walks season from late October to April 30.

It takes on a new beauty outside of the peak season, so it’s a great motivation to become a fit, experienced and well-equipped tramper, as you’ll need all of those qualities to complete it during the more challenging parts of the year.

View from Kepler Track

Views from the Kepler Track

The track, which is featured in our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure, takes you along the shorelines of Lake Te Anau, climbing above the bushline into mountain ranges, before making your descent into lush forest, following the shoreline of Lake Manapouri before emerging into unique wetlands and connecting you back to your starting point near Te Anau.

Kepler Track’s weather conditions are interchangeable, even in Great Walks season, so it’s a good idea to come prepared!

We’ve put together a guide to help you, whatever time of year you choose to go on your adventure!

Great Walks season (late October to April 30)

Nothing screams New Zealand summer like walking through forest listening to a symphony of cicadas. Temperatures are pretty consistent through Great Walks season and January and February are typically the hottest months. On a good day you’ll have clear skies and panoramic views of Lake Te Anau above the bushline.

It’s important to know that you’re in one of the wettest parts of the country though, and weather conditions can change quickly. Even during the peak season cold temperatures, rain, strong winds and snow can occur as well as avalanches, which can close the track from time to time.

During peak season, the Department of Conservation (DoC) manages the risk of avalanche as well as hut facilities.

Regardless of what time of year you’re going, it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive weather and avalanche report on the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s (NIWA’s) website.

Off-season (May to October)

Department of Conservation (DoC) strongly recommends trampers not attempt the Kepler Track outside of Great Walks season.

In winter, temperatures can range from 1-9°C in Fiordland, and on parts of the Kepler Track specifically, high mountains limit the amount of light that gets through which can shorten the already short daylight hours.

Kepler Track Bush

The beautiful Kepler Bush

While one of the main appeals of the track in winter is its blanket of glistening snow, it’s also a reason to take special care as the alpine section of the track is not marked and the snow can make it tricky to navigate.

DoC facilities (like gas, running water and flushing toilets) are reduced in the off-season and avalanches are frequent, with nine avalanche paths possibly able to cross the track.

Kepler really is breathtaking in winter, and to experience it in the safest possible way, it’s important that you’re skilled in backcountry winter navigation, have river crossing expertise and have the right alpine skills and equipment.

What to bring for weather conditions

For the best tips on how to pack, check out our comprehensive packing guide, and for weather specific items, see below!

The basics:

  • Hiking boots - firm and comfortable
  • Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
  • Socks (wool or polypropylene)
  • Quick-dry shorts
  • Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
  • Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
  • Waterproof and windproof raincoat and overtrousers
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Personal locator beacon

For off-season (in addition to the basics):

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Avalanche beacon
  • Avalanche probe
  • Snow shovel

There are so many reasons to visit the Kepler Track.

The warmer summer weather and clear days means you’ll get the best views of Mountain vistas and you might even treat yourself to a cooling dip in Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau.

In the cooler months, snow transforms the track into a winter wonderland, to be enjoyed in utter serenity as generally it’s less busy during this time.

With the right preparation, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy Kepler Track year round, however, if you want someone else to handle the logistics, we’ve got you covered on our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure which gives you a sampling of the best bits of the Kepler as well as the Milford, Routeburn, and Rakiura Tracks, all in the space of five days!


Can I do the Kepler Track in Winter?

Yes! The Kepler Track is open year round, but there are several extra considerations and precautions that need to be taken in winter. It’s recommended that you’re experienced in backcountry winter navigation, have river crossing expertise and have the right alpine skills and equipment. However, with that being said there are several winter friendly day hiking options available that we love to include in our Masterpiece tour. 

When is the best time to visit the Kepler Track?

For the average tramper, the best time to visit the Kepler Track is during the summer months Dec to Feb - that’s why it’s so busy! Not only do you get the best chance of sunshine and high temperatures, it’s during peak season, so there are increased facilities for use which are actively maintained by DoC during that time. Be sure to book an advance!

How do I check conditions before getting there?

For a comprehensive weather forecast and avalanche risk report, we recommend heading to the NIWA website. You can also get in touch with the Fiordland Visitor Centre (run by DoC) and they’ll be able to advise you of any potential issues or closures.

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