The Routeburn Track is a popular hiking trail located on the South Island of New Zealand. It traverses through the Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks, offering stunning alpine landscapes, lush forests, and breathtaking views. The track covers a distance of approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) and typically takes around 2 to 4 days to complete, depending on the pace and the number of stops made along the way.
Hikers on the Routeburn Track can experience a diverse range of natural scenery, including pristine lakes, dramatic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and unique flora and fauna. The trail is well-maintained and features a series of well-marked paths, suspension bridges, and well-equipped huts for overnight stays. It’s considered one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, which are premier hiking trails renowned for their exceptional beauty and accessibility.
Note: Due to its popularity, it’s recommended to make hut and camping reservations in advance, especially during the peak hiking season (October to April). The Routeburn Track provides an opportunity for hikers to immerse themselves in New Zealand’s picturesque wilderness and is a must-do adventure for those seeking a memorable outdoor experience.
- Immerse yourself in a landscape that transitions from dense beech forests to alpine meadows, showcasing the incredible range of New Zealand’s natural beauty.
- Enjoy breathtaking vistas of towering peaks, including views of Fiordland’s dramatic landscapes and Mount Aspiring’s majestic summits.
- Encounter crystal-clear lakes like Lake Mackenzie and Lake Harris, nestled amidst stunning surroundings that provide perfect spots for rest and reflection.
- Listen to the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls and hike along the edges of rivers that wind their way through the rugged terrain.
- Encounter a variety of plant and animal species, including native birds like the cheeky Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot.
- Capture postcard-worthy moments at every turn, from panoramic vistas to close-ups of intricate wildflowers.
- Hiking the Routeburn Track is more than just a physical journey; it’s an opportunity to connect with the environment, challenge yourself, and create lasting memories surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning landscapes.
Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown/ Transfer to Hotel
Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and provided a private transfer to your hotel.
— Airport Transfer
Overnight in Queenstown
Day 2: Free Time in Queenstown/ Pre-Track Briefing
Queenstown is known as the “Adventure Capital of the World.” If you can imagine it, you can do it in Queenstown. The city’s stunning natural surroundings and varied terrain, including mountains, rivers, and lakes, provide a wealth of opportunities for thrill-seekers of all levels.
Some of the activities that Queenstown is known for include bungee jumping, skydiving, kayaking, jet boating, rafting, hiking, climbing, river surfing, sledging, kite skiing, parasailing, paragliding, hang gliding, snow sports, and mountain biking. It’s an adventure lovers’ paradise and you’ll have the day free to choose your adventure.
Starting its life as a gold mining camp in the 1860s, central Queenstown is today a compact area with a friendly, yet ‘grown-up’ feel. Its narrow streets are lined with plentiful bars and restaurants, backpacker hostels, as well as upmarket hotels and local shops.
Because of the city’s unique layout, you can choose to wander within the heart of town, go on an adrenaline-pumping jet-boat ride, hike up a mountain, enjoy a lake view, or escape from the city bustle to the countryside to sample the region’s acclaimed wines such as the beautifully full-bodied Pinot Noir. From the edge of town, you can take a cable car up the mountain top for a panoramic view of the surrounding area, or enjoy a traditional dinner.
Stretching along the south side of the lake, you’ll spy the Remarkables – so-called because of the “remarkable” light effects that play across their slopes. During summer, their color changes from mauve to deep red as the sun goes down, while in winter, their snow-covered cones are just a breathtaking spectacle to behold.
At 1:45pm, you will have a pre-track briefing at the office in Queenstown to explain the next few days of your walk, go through the packing checklist, and show you the equipment available for rent.
— Meals: Breakfast
— Pre-Track Briefing
Overnight in Queenstown
Day 3: Queenstown to Mackenzie Lodge
Your adventure begins with a coach ride from Queenstown to the Divide on the scenic Milford Road, stopping at Te Anau for morning tea. The wide and well-formed track climbs steadily from the Divide to Key Summit. Take the optional walk to the summit to see wetlands and gaze down three valleys from which water flows to three different coasts.
Following lunch at Lake Howden, the track gradually climbs through silver beech forest to Earland Falls. You’ll hear them before you see them! Take a break here before beginning the descent into Mackenzie Lodge which is steep and rocky, so take your time. Refreshments, a hot shower, a three-course meal, and comfortable beds are waiting at Mackenzie Lodge.
12km (7.5 miles)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Track Terrain: The track inclines steadily and is reasonably smooth, broken by rocky sections with some steep downhill.
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at MacKenzie Lodge
Day 4: MacKenzie Lodge to Routeburn Falls Lodge
The track from Lake Mackenzie starts with an ascent through an ancient forest onto alpine zig zags to Ocean Peak Corner, where you have a full vista of the Darran Mountains. The track then crosses the Hollyford Face to the Harris Saddle, where you will stop for lunch. After lunch, weather permitting take the optional walk up Conical Hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks. Rounding Lake Harris after lunch you reach the track’s highest point. From there the descent into the upper basin of the Routeburn Valley is a mixture of gravel track and boardwalk until you reach the Routeburn Falls. Spend your final night at the beautifully located Routeburn Falls Lodge.
11 km (6.9 miles)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Track Terrain: Uneven and steep in places, with a series of zig-zags, then mostly flat across the mountain before heading downhill with some boardwalks and steps.
— Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Overnight at Routeburn Falls Lodge
Day 5: Routeburn Falls to Queenstown
The track descends from the lodge to the alpine pastures of the Routeburn Flats, crossing a tree slip allowing views of the mountains beyond. At the bottom take a short detour to the DOC hut and walk out onto the flats to see the full expanse of the valley. The track widens from here and follows alongside the Routeburn River as it roars through a magnificent gorge. Gorge Flat is a great place to stop for lunch. The last section is a gentle walk through the beech forest and across the last swingbridge to the Routeburn Shelter. A coach will take you back to Queenstown, stopping at the small town of Glenorchy on the way.
9km (5.7 miles)
Level of difficulty: Easy
Track Terrain: Rocky descent to start then mostly wide and smooth with some rocky patches.
— Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnight in Queenstown
Day 6: Depart Queenstown
Today is departure day and at the appropriate time, you will be taken to the airport for your flight from Queenstown to your next destination.
— Meals: Breakfast
— Airport Transfer
- Our travel partner for the Routeburn Track can take up to 40 walkers each day, so it is necessary to book well in advance.
- Our guides are highly experienced and have extensive training in first-aid, mountain rescue, flora, fauna, and geology, and all have been certified in Wilderness First Responder and CPR. They are caring, understanding, and experienced to handle your individual needs. They are aware of the nature of adventure, sustainability, and social responsibility.
- The track can be walked both ways and is accessible by car at each end.
- The Track is a combination of terrain – from flat, well graded, to uneven and rocky. There are steep climbs and even steeper descents.
- The pre-track briefing is at 1.45pm in Queenstown on the day prior to your walk departure date.
- The bus departs Queenstown the following morning at 6.30am. You will stop in Te Anau for morning tea.
- Your walk begins at the Divide at approximately 11.30am.
- It is important to remember that the track is in a remote wilderness area. There is no cellular or internet service on the tracks. All of our guides and the lodges are in touch with each other and the Queenstown base by radio.
- It is essential to be well-prepared for all seasons. Fiordland National Park has very changeable weather patterns and high rainfall levels. This means that snow, high winds, and rain can occur at any time of the year.
- Fiordland has around 9 meters of rain a year and it’s sheer cliffs come to life with waterfalls. Rivers and creeks can also rise quickly so be prepared to walk through water.
- Layers of warm, quick-drying, and breathable fabrics are the key to keeping warm in wet weather and cooling off in the sun.
- You will carry your own backpack from lodge to lodge. You can supply your own or we can provide a 40L backpack for you that can be collected at the pre-track briefing. The pack will weigh about 5-7kg (10-14lbs) when full, if you follow the recommended equipment list.
- Travel insurance is mandatory for all Adventure People trips. A minimum of $200,000 in emergency medical and evacuation, including repatriation, is required to participate in any of our trips. We strongly recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance which provides coverage for trip interruption, flight cancellation, and loss of baggage.
- We are aware of the negative impacts of travel and we choose our travel partners based on their commitment to social development and environment preservation. Our guides are responsible for ensuring that the guests understand the nature of the environment that they are in and minimize the impact they may have.
Level 3: Moderate
Depending on your current level of fitness, we recommend you begin an exercise routine to increase fitness, strength, and cardio before coming on the walk.
This could be just walking around your neighborhood daily and building up the distance walked over time aiming to comfortably walk more than 15km (9 mi) in a day.
Initial training should be on flat, even terrain, building up to uneven ground and hill walks. This progression should reduce the chance of getting injured on rough ground.
Stair walking is an adequate substitute if you live in an area without hills, although it will not give you the rough ground that is useful to train on. Dry riverbeds can provide the rough terrain that is useful towards the end of your training.
Train in the footwear (and socks) that you intend to walk in. This will ensure that they are adequately broken in and will lessen the likelihood of getting blisters.
It is highly recommended to train while carrying a small backpack, increasing the weight carried until you are carrying 7-10kg (15-22 lbs).
If you plan to use walking poles during your trip (and we strongly recommend you do), it is a good idea to also use them during your training.
Walk in the rain during training if possible. Our tracks experience frequent rain events, so it makes sense to get used to it!
If possible, you should be getting out for two or three walks each week in the lead-up to your trip.
As your trip gets closer, make sure you go for walks on consecutive days (just like you will do on the trip) to see how your body recovers.
Once we receive your enquiry, we will reach out with a calendar invite in order to schedule a time to talk about your trip. A 25% deposit is required once the itinerary is approved. Payment is due in full 90-days prior to the start date of your trip.
For group size of 2-4 people