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The Majestic Routeburn Track - Queenstown

Nestled in the heart of New Zealand's majestic Southern Alps, the Routeburn Track is a world-renowned hiking trail that offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. Whether you're an avid hiker or a casual walker, this track provides a unique opportunity to explore the pristine natural beauty of the Fiordland and Mount Aspiring national parks. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your adventure on the Routeburn Track.

Best Times to Hike the Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is most accessible and enjoyable during the Great Walks season, which runs from late October to late April. During this time, the weather is generally milder, and all facilities along the track, including huts and campsites, are fully operational. Summer (December to February) offers the warmest temperatures and longest daylight hours, making it the peak season for hikers.


How to Prepare for Your Hike

Fitness Preparation: The Routeburn Track is a moderate to challenging hike, spanning approximately 32 kilometers and taking 2 to 4 days to complete, depending on your pace and how much of the track you wish to cover. It’s crucial to be in good physical condition, as the trail includes some steep climbs and uneven terrain.

Packing Essentials: Your backpack should include:

  • Waterproof rain gear

  • Warm layers for sudden weather changes

  • Sturdy hiking boots

  • Sunscreen and a sunhat

  • Plenty of water and high-energy food snacks

  • A first aid kit

  • A map and compass or a GPS device

Travel and Transport

The Routeburn Track is unique because it starts and finishes at different points, with the eastern end near Glenorchy, about an hour’s drive from Queenstown, and the western end at The Divide, closer to Te Anau. You can arrange transport through various local shuttle services that offer pickups and drop-offs at both ends of the track. Consider booking a round-trip ticket from Queenstown, which simplifies getting back to your starting point once you’ve completed the hike.

Booking Huts on the Routeburn Track

During the Great Walks season, it’s essential to book your accommodation in advance through the Department of Conservation (DOC). The Routeburn Track has three main huts – Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, and Lake Mackenzie Hut – each equipped with basic amenities like bunk beds, cooking facilities, and toilets. Bookings open in June for the following hiking season and can fill up quickly, so plan ahead to secure your spot. For more information including hut bookings, hikes and PDF maps, visit the Department of Conservation website.

Historical and Geological Insights

The Routeburn Track has a rich history, used by Māori for gathering pounamu (greenstone) and hunting. The trail showcases diverse geological features, from ancient beech forests to alpine meadows and towering mountain ranges, formed over millennia through glacial activity.

Tips for a Successful Hike

  • Weather Awareness: Always check the local weather forecast before you start your hike. Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, and being prepared is key to a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Respect the Environment: Keep to the marked paths to protect the plant and animal life. Carry out all your rubbish and consider using biodegradable products.

  • Safety First: Let someone know your plans and expected return time. Carry a personal locator beacon in case of emergency.

Suggested Food

To pack for a three-day hike think light and bring comfort food.

Breakfast – Coffee, Oats/Cereals

Lunch – Sandwhich or croissant, cheese, snack bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky and chocolate

Dinner – Quick noodles or ready to eat meals

Suggested Hiking Gear

Polypropylene thermal top and pant

Wind and Rain proof jackets and over-pants

Socks – three pairs (thermal and cotton)

Lightweight Back Pack – 50L – 60L (2kg or less)

Rubbish Bag

Cooking Utensils (stove and gas provided)

Inner liners for back pack

Clothing – one change for night use

Gloves – optional

Fleece/Jersey (woollen and lightweight)

Hat and sunglasses

Walking stick

Sleeping Bag

Water Bottle – 1.5L/Bladder bag


Toiletries – Toilet Paper

First Aid and personal medication- including Blister pads, plaster, pain killers, etc

Quick Dry Light weight Towel


Insect repellent


Lightweight Swimming gear

Plan Ahead: Shop PlanGo

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