The Kepler Track is a circular tramping track in the South Island of New Zealand, contains the Mt Luxmore, Luxmore Cave and Forest, river and alpine track above the tree line. It is one of the Department of Conservation (DOC) Great Walks.
The 60 km (37 mi) circular Kepler tramping track travels through spectacular scenery of the Fiordland National Park area of the South Island of New Zealand and starts and ends near the town of Te Anau. The track passes through many divers landscapes starting on the shores of Lake Te Anau, passing through tall verdant forests, along rocky mountain ledges, deep gorges, and rivers. The track is named after the adjacent maintain range with in turn is named after Johannes Kepler, the 17th Century astronomer.
If walking the track in tree or four days is not challenging enough, you could try running in in the Kepler Challenge, an event in early December to run the track, with the fastest times being around 5 hours, although some take 12 hours.
The start of there track near the lakes's control gates is within walking distance of the town, about ¾ hour. Many walkers also take a boat across lake Te Anau to Brod Bay. This cuts a couple of hours off the walk.
The track is classed as a Great Walk for late October to end April.
The Kepler Track has 3 excellent Great Walks huts with resident wardens, two camping areas. There are also 2 emergency shelters in the alpine section of the walk.
Depending on the hut they have bunks from 40 to 54 people, provide gas for cooking, running water and toilets. During the winter months pass is removed as are the flushing toilets, inside water supply and fuel fo rate fire.
Hut and camping fees are to be paid to DOC before travel. Space is limited so it may be necessary to book early. The Kepler Track is a popular, but not the most popular great walk, you stand a reasonable chance of getting a bed if you book about 3 months in advance but ideally book when the booking opens around June for the following summer.
Bring all your own food and cooking utensils. Gas stoves are provided in the main huts during the summer season (but not at standard huts or campsites).
As you will be carrying 3 or 4 days food and doing strenuous exercise, light nutritious meals and nibbles are recommended.
The water is excellent, however if unsure, you may wish to sterilise it. Remember to consume sufficient each day so that you do not become dehydrated from the walk.
The bunks are comfortable but snoring of other walkers in the dormitory can be a problem for some. There can at time be issues with noisy people late at night or people leaving early in the morning.
A good sleeping bag is necessary as the weather can be cold even in summer.
Some people take ear plugs for a better night's sleep.
If you need to collect your pre-booked hut tickets, call into the 1 Te Anau DOC Visitor Centre. The start of the track is pleasant lakeside walk from Te Anau. This passes the 1 Te Anau Wildlife Centre, where you can see takahe and kaka.
The track starts (and finishes) at the 2 Kepler Track Car Park where there is a small shelter and some display boards. The shelter has a couple of benches to sit on. Follow the track for about 200m to the Control Gates. These control the flow of water out of lake Te Anau, not the number of walkers on the track!
The track is easy and stays fairly close to Lake Tea Anau until you reach 1 Brod Bay Campsite. The campsite has some pitches among the trees and an open shelter for cooking in. You can arrange a water taxi to take you to Te Anau from here.
Shortly after leaving the hut, and making a small diversion, you come to 3 Mount Luxmore Summit, at 1472m, the highest point on the track. If you get a clear day there are great views.
3 Shelter and Toilet
4 Hanging Valley Emergency Shelter
4 1167m summit??
The 3 Iris Burn Hut has 50 beds and there is a nearby campsite for 15. The track then follows the Iris Burn (river) down to Lake Manpouri.
5 Rocky Point Shelter
The 4 Moturau Hut has 40 beds.
If you want to have any early finish, there is a bridge across the Waiau River at 6 Rainbow Beach, to a car park. Otherwise follow the river back to the 6 Control Gates, and back to the car park or on to Te Anau.
Beware the KeasEdit
The Kea are a high altitude bird that forages in groups in alpine areas. They have powerful beaks for dislodging their food in the hard ground. They are highly intelligent, work co-operatively in groups, are very inquisitive and potentially destructive. They have been known to, as a group, distract people while one of their number rips open a backpack with ease, they can destroy boots and clothing left out at night. They have been seen distracting a walker while one bird walks around and tastes their boot while the walker is still standing in them.
Kea are spectacular birds that are fun to watch. They are also a threatened species and human diet is not good for them. Help protect them by not feeding them and not letting them break into your pack for your food.
The weather in the Fiordland National Park can change very quickly and the exposed alpine areas can experience high winds and dense cloud. Don't take any weather warnings lightly From May to late October each year the track is only for more experienced parties who are fit and well equiped. Rangers are not in attendance during this period.
The NZ Met Service publishes regular weather updates for Mt Luxmore on their website.