Luxmore Hut is the destination for day 2 of the Kepler Track. The day starts with a steep climb to the bush line before crossing a ridge to Luxmore Hut. The increased elevation affords spectacular views across Fiordland National Park. (Read about the previous day here)
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Distance: 60 km
Days: 3-4 days
Camping: Wild camping, huts
Guidebook: Great Walks of New Zealand
The day was surprisingly short. Carrying a full pack, the hard initial climb really took a toll, though the peacefulness of the forest and the cool of the morning (I set off at 6am) was compensation. Then, just as the climbing was starting to get boring, I reached the bush line and it was over. From that point there were panoramic views back towards Te Anau and Lake Te Anau, and across to mountain ranges on the opposite side. It was then a relatively gentle walk across a ridge, with Luxmore Hut tucked away behind a hill. The DOC claim 4 to 6 hours to Luxmore Hut, but I made it in just under 3. In fact, I arrived so early that most people had still not left the hut yet – but at least I had the pick of the beds!
Luxmore Cave side trip
One of the side trips on the Kepler Track is to Luxmore Cave. The trail to the cave is marked from Luxmore Hut and it takes about 10 minutes to reach the entrance. The cave extends for quite some distance – the ranger told me it takes about 40 minutes to reach the end – and has a small stream running through its length. A good, powerful torch is essential – plus spare batteries and a backup light source. It really is clinically dark in the cave after the first turn, and although I didn’t see any side passages down which you could get lost, you would have a hell of a time trying to navigate your way out in the pitch blackness.
There are lots of beautiful formations, including stalagmites and stalagtites, in the cave. Later sections get somewhat narrower and involve crawling or squatting, but it is a fun and worthy side trip. I didn’t venture to the end of the cave as my companions wanted to turn around and I didn’t think it prudent to continue alone, but even within the first 20 minutes there is plenty to see.