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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

One of the country’s greatest walks, the 32km Routeburn Track takes hikers across some of New Zealand’s most inspiring alpine country. The scenery is spectacular and will literally take your breath away; think forested valleys, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and mountain passes with sweeping views.

Although relatively short – it takes between 2-4 days – this rugged walk tests the hiker, with terrain that’s both mountainous and heavily wooded, Fortunately, the overnight huts are exceptionally comfortable with good, modern facilities.

The Routeburn can be combined with either the Caples and Greenstone tracks to provide a round-trip from Queenstown. Walkers should allow 8 days to complete the three walks.

Logistics

Price from: £150
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-4 days

Getting there & doing it

The nearest towns are Queenstown (68km) and Te Anau (85km). Return transport is available if walking from Queenstown to The Divide.

There are Department of Conservation huts along the route, offering communal bunkrooms (including mattresses), and facilities. Hikers must bring their own supplies, sleeping bags, cooking utensils and warm clothing. You can also camp – but you then need to carry your own tent.

If you’re going independent, you can book directly on the government website – you basically pay a nightly fee to stay in a hut.

Using a private guiding company, such as Ultimate Hikes, takes away much of the hassle. They’ll book your transfers and any accommodation you need before/after, and supply a guide for the hike. On the hike, you stay in their private lodges.

Go NewZealand offer a self-guided option – they’ll book your transfers, any accommodation needed before/after, and your huts along the route. But there’s no guide, allowing you to walk independently.

When to do it

Hiking is possible all year round, but the track may be closed in case of adverse weather conditions. Spring, summer and early autumn are best, when the weather is clement and views sparkle.

Destination guides

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