Kepler Track part 1

The Kepler Track is one of New Zealand’s nine ‘Great Walks’. The Great Walks network was established in 1993 as a way to advertise, manage and conserve the most popular backpacking walks in the country, which were being increasingly damaged by unrestricted tourism. They now strictly regulate the number of hikers that can go on these tracks. They have also made them extremely expensive to book the mandatory huts, or campsites around the huts, that you stay in while on the tracks.

We chose to do the Kepler Track. It’s a 40 mile hike which starts in lowland beech & fern forests, than climbs up and along alpine ridges before dropping backdown to forested river valleys. We spent 4 days and 3 nights on the trail. 4 days and 3 nights of extremely hard, dirty, sandfly infested … yet beautiful and wonderful hiking!

Day 1. Miles of beech and fern forest …
First camp. Sandflies suck &$#!!
But it was a beautiful sunset.
Day 2, hiking up through rain and clouds to the tree line …
Luxmore Hut barely visible through the clouds.
Afternoon of day 2 found Luxmore Hut bathed in sunlight.
Day hike above Luxmore Hut …
Top of Mount Luxmore, highest elevation of the Kepler Track, in the distance.
Mealtime in the Luxmore common room.
Our bunks for the night.

Kepler Track part 2

Day 3, up into the high country …
Difficult to judge scale by a photo … but note the tiny Angela at the bottom left of the pic.
Forest Burn Shelter, one of 2 emergency shelters along the Alpine section of the track.
Finally descending down to the river valley.
Iris Burn Hut from our campground in the valley.
Evening walk to a nearby waterfall. If we waited until dark, we probably would have seen Kiwi birds … but we were way too exhausted for that : p
Day 4, miles more beech and fern forests … 16 miles of them on our final day out!! Pain …
… and delirium.
Pit stop at the Moturau Hut … which was all booked up. Hence the brutal 16 mile death march to our car.