The Kepler Track | A Complete Guide
The Kepler Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular Great Walks. This 60km looped trail can be found in Fiordland National Park, near the lakeside town of Te Anau. The three to four-day hike takes you across scenic ridgelines, through lush native beech forest and along serene lakes. If you don’t want to take on a multi-day hiking adventure on the Kepler Track, there are multiple short walks and day hike options for you to enjoy as well.
Fun facts about the Kepler Track
The Kepler Track is one of few walks in New Zealand which was custom made and not naturally evolved from Māori greenstone trails. It was first opened in 1988.
Every year the Kepler Challenge takes place on the Kepler Track. The Kepler Challenge is a running race that covers the entire 60km of the track in a single day!
The track runs alongside Lake Te Anau, which is the largest body of fresh water in Australasia.
The Māori legend goes, Rākaihautū discovered two lakes during a period of heavy rain. He named them Te Ana Au meaning ‘cave of rain’ and Roto Ua meaning ‘the lake where rain is constant’, now known as Lake Manapouri.
Route options for the Kepler Track
The full distance
If you want to tackle the entire Kepler Track, park up at the Kepler Track carpark and head off on your multi-day adventure. Your first stop is Brod Bay, 5.6km from the carpark, it will take you roughly one and a half hours. From Brod Bay, head to Luxmore Hut, covering 8.2km spread out over three to four hours. This challenging stretch will take you above the bush line. If you have the energy, both Luxmore Cave and summit make for great side trips.
The following day, you will cover 14.6km (five to six hours) to get to Iris Burn Hut. This day features some stunning views traversing the ridge and taking in superb views of Lake Te Anau. The next day, it’s your choice to make it to Moturau Hut or all the way back to the carpark. To the hut, it’s 16.3km. If you are feeling energetic, take a refreshing dip in Lake Manapouri before pushing on for another hour and a half to Rainbow Reach. The Kepler Track carpark is a further 9.5km away.
With New Zealand Trails, you will take on the section from Rainbow Reach to Motaru Hut and back. It makes for a great day walk! Meander through the beech forest and wetlands, over swing bridges and across boardwalks until you emerge out beside the idyllic lakeside Moturau Hut. The views across Lake Manapouri are spectacular and if the sun is shining it’s a great place to take a dip or having some lunch before hiking back out.
Best time to hike the Kepler Track
As one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, we advise only taking on the hike in the Great Walks season which runs from the end of October until the end of April. That is our spring through to autumn when the weather is at its best. To find your perfect time of year check out our blog on the best time to visit New Zealand.
Tips to hike the Kepler Track
Check the weather forecast before you go. Call into the DOC (Department of Conservation) in Te Anau if you are unsure and they will be able to help you make your decision.
Essentials for your pack include a headtorch, sunscreen, a hat, an extra warm layer or two, and a rain jacket.
Start your day early, allowing yourself plenty of time to complete the hike during daylight hours.
Make sure someone knows your plans. Leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned, and write in the logbooks in the huts so DOC knows your whereabouts.
Hiking the Kepler Track with New Zealand Trails
You will walk the Kepler Track on all of our South Island tours (The Grand Explorer, World Heritage Walking Tour, Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic and Pure South). The Kepler Track is known for its native beech forest draped in moss, incredible lake views and stunning mountain ranges; it makes for a great adventure. On our trips, we walk the section from Rainbow Reach to Moturau Hut.
If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.