Routeburn Day Trip
The Routeburn Track (along with the Milford Track) is probably the premier Great Walk. It is the one you will typically see in books with titles like “The 100 best walks in the World”. It is only a 32 km, two and a half day hike if you want to do the whole trip, and there is a glamping option (which is exceptional!). We even have friends who have run it in a day. But running aside, make sure you book accommodation in advance if you do want to do the whole trip. Note that it can be difficult to book. Fortunately, you can still access some of the best sections with half-day to full-day options. In this blog, we look at options for day walks of the Great Walk.
From Te Anau, it is a one-hour drive along Milford Road to the Divide car park and the Routeburn westside track entrance. From there, it is a three hour return hike to Key Summit. It’s continuously uphill but not too tough and the views and “alpine garden” are magical at the top. For a day trip, continue on to Lake Howden and even Earland Falls before turning around.
If you access the Routeburn from the Glenorchy/Lake Wakatipu end, there is a six-hour return walk to Falls Hut. The first, mostly flat, part of the walk takes you to the Flats Hut and Campsite, about two hours. From there it is a 40-minute hike up to Routeburn Falls. If you have the time and energy, continue on towards Lake Harris and the Harris Saddle (an hour each way). Try not to get too distracted by the scenery and allow plenty of time to get back!
Even in summer, be aware of the risk of changeable weather, especially if going all the way to Harris Saddle.