Kepler Track Preparations
The Kepler track is a 60 kilometre hike in the Fiordland area of New Zealand. The 3 to 4 day hike is designated one of the country’s Great Walks. This designation means the trails are well maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It also means the Kepler Track is very popular, and booking huts and campsites in advance is mandatory.
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Distance: 60 km
Days: 3-4 days
Camping: Wild camping, huts
Guidebook: Great Walks of New Zealand
One slightly odd thing about the Kepler Track is that there are only two places to camp – at Brod Bay on day 1 (which is very close to the control gates and could easily be skipped) and at Iris Burn on day 3 (or 2). The second night, at Luxmore Hut, does not provide a camping option. This means if you only want to camp you need to hike from Brod Bay to Iris Burn in a single day – possible, but rather rushed. Similarly, there is no camping option at Moturau hut, meaning the 22km hike from Iris Burn to Rainbow Reach must be completed in a single day. Of course, it is possible to stay in a mixture of huts and campsites, and the lack of campsites is undoubtedly for conservation reasons.
With this in mind, the plan was as follows:
There is a section of the track from Rainbow Reach to the control gates to complete the ‘circuit’, but to be honest I didn’t see the need to complete this. Also, TrackNet, who provide transport to and from the Kepler Track, had a special package for drop-offs at the control gate and pickups at Rainbow Reach, so it was easier to arrange that way!
Kepler Track – Control Gates to Brod Bay
This first day can easily be combined with the second day, as the trek to Brod Bay takes less than 2 hours. However, I decided to take a leisurely afternoon stroll here and save the climbing to Luxmore Hut for the next day. I’m glad I did – the campsite is fantastically situated and the flat stroll through the forest leading to it is very serene. Looking out of the tent onto the calm waters of Lake Te Anau was a great way to wake up on Christmas Day!
The Brod Bay campsite has a water tank (rain water – most people were drinking this directly, without treatment), a small shelter area with benches and tables, and a composting toilet. As with all of the DOC areas I saw in New Zealand, it was very clean and well maintained. Sand flies were a bit of a problem here, but that is to be expected…