Country/Region: New Zealand
Trekking Date: 02/18/2016
Duration: 2 days
Difficulty Level: Easy
Recommended Season: Summer (November to April)
A short and very convenient trek of 32km, suitable for trekkers at almost any level. This trek exposes you to a variety of views and landscapes, making you feel very rewarded for a rather small effort… The trek can be done as a one long day trek or in an easy two days.
I, personally, really recommend starting the trek from the eastern side (point #1). It is nicer to climb up to the saddle from that side and being suddenly exposed to the beautiful view of Fiordland.
Since this is a Great Walk track, it is not allowed to sleep along the route, except for one certain point (and the rangers are very suspicious…)
Required Equipment & Supply:
Sleeping bag is required (unless you decide to finish the trek in one day) and a tent is recommended.
Water can be filled from the rivers along the track.
A map of the track can be bought at the DOC stores or on their website.
If you bought tickets to one of the huts you should bring them with you (reservation should be done quite long time in advance due to the trek’s popularity).
Note that marks on this map are not completely accurate and do not substitute a proper trekking map.
Getting to/from there:
The trek is one-way and you can start it either from Glenorchy area on the eastern side or from Fiordland area on the western side. If you’re travelling with a car, I recommend finding someone else who has a car to exchange keys with – meaning, someone who will do the trek in the opposite direction so you can exchange car keys in the middle of the trek, and set up a meeting point after the trek (Te Anau, for example).
Driving to the trek’s starting point (point #1) takes about half an hour from Glenorchy and about an hour and a half from Queenstown. If starting from point #5 (Fiordland area), it takes about an hour and a half driving from Te Anau.
Two important things to note:
- Te Anau is a very small town and there aren’t many places to stay there, but there’s a nice library with internet access in the town center.
- On the Fiordland road, north of Te Anau, there’s no cell-phone reception at all.
Distance: 15 KM
If starting from point #1, on the first day you walk by an amazing river with clear water and you can stop for some swims along the way. It’s better to start the trek early in the morning so you’ll have enough time to spend in all the beautiful spots along the track. At point #2 there’s a nice and convenient spot for breakfast/lunch before the ascent. Once you start ascending, there aren’t so many shady spots to stop at.
The ascent from point #2 to point #3 takes about 3 hours but it’s a gentle slope and pretty easy to walk.
Once you get to the big lake (Lake Harris) you need to keep walking on the track until you get to its edge, and then you start walking north along the lake on its west bank. The walk from point #3 to point #4 is not on a track, so just walk wherever seems comfortable. Point #4 can be recognized by a streams confluence and a huge rock (see the mark on the map).
Distance: 17 KM
The second day is much easier than the first one and it’s mostly going down hill.
After getting back to the track and arriving at the saddle, Fiordland view is revealed and it is seen throughout half of this day.
From the saddle it’s about 2.5 hours walk until getting to another DOC hut near Lake Mackenzie (point #7), where you can comfortably stop to eat and rest. After that, the track goes into the wooded area again for about 3 more hours of walk down hill, passing another DOC hut near Lake Howden (point #6), and reaching the end of the trek.
Things To Do Around:
If you start the trek from point #1, I recommend sleeping in Glenorchy area. There’s a DOC camp site there, about 15 minutes from the trek’s starting point.
If you start the trek from point #5, there are several comfortable DOC camp sites in Fiordland area (the closest is located about 15 minutes south of point #5).