Possibly the most famous hike in The Long of the White Cloud, this is New Zealand at its very finest.

Statistics

1

day +

1,719

m

1,663

m

17

max┬░

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Moderate

Description

This 32 kilometre track in the heart of New Zealand's Alps is truly spectacular.

It could be done in a single push for a hiker with the required fitness and motivation but it is best done at a leisurely pace so that it can be enjoyed fully.

As such, it is usually completed in 2 - 4 days.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) has 4 manned huts on the route, and 2 campsites.

The huts cost NZ$65 per night and have running (cold) water, beds, cooking and toilet facilities and heating, but they are not catered and you will need to carry your own food.

The campsites, which are NZ$20 per night, have running water and cooking shelters, but no cooking facilities.

Whichever option you choose, these facilities are generally open from late October until late April and you will need to book in advance because the track is popular.

It is possible to do the hike outside the hut opening season but not recommended because the already unpredictable New Zealand weather is even more wild in winter! The hike can be done in either direction but is more commonly completed by starting at the Routeburn Shelter, a 25 kilometre drive north of Glenorchy - a small village at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu.

From the Shelter, follow the path alongside the beautifully clear Route Burn up to the Bridal Veil Waterfall and on to the grassy flats which house the Routeburn Flats hut.

Carry on through beautiful rainforest to the Routeburn Falls Hut and continue through wetlands to the highest point of the hike - the Harris Saddle/Tarahaka Whakatipu (1,255 metres).

Soak in the staggering view of the wild and remote Darran Mountains and then descend gently to the Lake Mackenzie Hut, which sits next to the lake after which it is named.

The descent to the lake and hut is famed for the array of wildflowers that are visible en route so take your time and try to take it all in.

From the lake there is a short flat section, a short climb and then a long and enjoyable descent to The Divide Shelter, and the road head.