Kepler Trek, New Zealand - Hiking From the Te Anau Control Gates to Luxmore Hut
Having completed Routeburn I accompanied my wife Jennifer back to Queenstown and we enjoying the many trill seeking perks of New Zealand. This included paragliding in her wedding dress for our One Dress, One Woman, One World project. However, Jennifer had to return home and I was headed back to Te Anau alone to complete my last trek. Fortunately, I learned from my previous bus ride and took motion sickness meds. This promptly knocked me out and I didn’t awaken until I arrived in Te Anau.
My first order of business was to stop at the friendly Fiordland National Park visitor center and check on the weather. I hoped to have a continuation of my luck from Routeburn and not experience the perils of bad weather again. The look of the DOC staffer was not encouraging as she stated while the weather was good now, it wouldn’t stay that way. “Care to go now?” she asked. It didn’t take me long to make the executive decision to push on early and try to stay ahead of the poor conditions.
I bulleted over to the hostel , unpacked, repacked, and did a quick resupply shopping trip before I declared myself “ready.” The reality was I was completely discombobulated, but I figured I would rather be a little unprepared in good weather than prepared in horrific conditions. The start of the trail was a 45 minute walk from the Fiordland National Park Center, but a kind hiker was willing to give me a lift, so I made up a little more time. Never one to want to start late in the day, I was worried about arriving too late to the hut.
As I started down the trail it was heaven. I comfortably ambled along the first 5K with a beautifully level trail flanked with a lake on one side. As I hiked fears of the pending weather were washed from my head by the soothing sounds of the lake’s waves crashing against the shore, a sweet forest scent pervading my nose and a lush green foliage everywhere for the eye to see. It was much richer than Routeburn, but didn’t quite match Milford’s intensity.
The trail was almost completely empty, although I did pass a few people mellowing out by the lakeshore. Of course all good things come to an end and the trail began to climb from 200m to 500m along a trail with many switch backs. As I climbed I met a young woman from Colorado and we hiked together, stopped for a quick lunch, and then I headed forward by myself.
The trail was merciless, climbing without pause until I reached the bluffs. Upon reaching the open expansive space, the grassy plain provided views of the town and lake below. From there it was short order to the hut. Sadly it was didn’t have the charm of the huts on the other two Fiordland treks. The bunks were tight, there was little living space and the tables were all stainless steel that harshly reflected the late day sun directly in your face. In addition, the burners kept blowing out. It would be a long trip if I ran out of matches. The view from the hut was amazing.
As an added bit of entertainment there was a short hike to a nearby cave.
The story continues...