Tramping and Hiking

The Kepler Track

The Kepler Track is located just 1km from Dock Bay Lodge.  It is a circular walking track, approximately 60 kms long and has three excellent huts for your overnight use.  The scenery is spectacular and the track passes through many landscapes of the Fiordland National Park ranging from rocky mountain ridges to tall mossy forests, from lake shores to deep gorges.  The walking track is constructed to a very high standard, most streams are bridged, boardwalks cover boggy areas and the very steep sections have steps.  It is a moderate walking track that takes three to four days to complete.

However, there are some hardy and fit outdoor enthusiasts who compete in the annual Kepler Challenge held in December every year and run the track in one day. The fastest time home is less than five hours which defies belief but it is true.  A soak in the spa back at the lodge for a very long time would be essential after a gruelling day out like that.



The Hollyford Track

The Hollyford Track is one of New Zealand's best known tramping tracks. Located at the northern edge of Fiordland, in the southwestern South Island, it is unusual among Fiordland's major tracks in that it is largely flat and accessible year-round.

The track is 56 kilometres in length, and takes four days to walk one way. It runs roughly south-north, its southern end being accessible by road 15 kilometres to the east of the Homer Tunnel, and its northern end being at the Tasman Sea coast at Martins Bay, north of Milford Sound.

For most of its path, the track follows the course of the Hollyford River. Features of the track are the two lakes, Lake Alabaster (or Waiwahuika) and Lake McKerrow (or Whakatipu Waitai), the latter being a fiord now cut off from the sea by sediment. The track runs through lowland forest, with views of surrounding mountains. Wildlife visible from the track include seals, penguins, and herons.

You can find out more about the Hollyford Track by visiting the DOC website.


The Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is a world-renowned tramping (hiking) track and can be accessed from the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu or the Te Anau side at the Divide north of Te Anau.  The NZ Department of Conservation maintains four huts along the track: Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, Mackenzie Hut, and Howden Hut plus there is an emergency shelter at Harris Saddle.  The track overlaps two National Parks; the Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park's with the border being Harris Saddle.

This area gets much less rain that the Milford Sound and the forests are very different, especially on the eastern side of the saddle, where there are a lot of large pines and other trees, and relatively few ferns.  The track spends a long time on the high ridges around Harris Saddle, with great long distance views in many directions.

Much of the Routeburn Track is also accessible to day hikers, especially Key Summit on the Te Anau side.

You can find out more about the Routeburn track by visiting the DOC website.


The Milford Track

The Milford Track is undoubtedly the most famous tramp in New Zealand, an iconic trip in to the heart of Fiordland.  It is a showpiece tramp, embodying all the scenery that makes Fiordland such a tourist draw card.

In the late 1870's NZ was trying hard to attract settlers and the government saw tourism as a means to entice people.  Milford Sound and the Sutherland Falls (at the time thought to be the highest waterfall in the world) were big drawcards.  The trip involved a boat ride from Bluff through treacherous waters around the south coast of the South Island and more than a few ladies and gentlemen lost their lunch.  Local surveyor named Quintin MacKinnon set off up the Clinton Valley with his mate Ernest Mitchell and spent several days living off the land.  On the 16th October 1988 they crossed the pass at the head of the valley (MacKinnon Pass) and thereby established the Milford Track.  Infrastructure developed with the construction of huts at the mouth of the Clinton River, MacKinnon' Hut opposite Neale Burn and Pompolona Camp, sometimes employing prison gangs and private contractors to upgrade the trail.

Blanche Baughan, a New Zealand poet, walked the track in 1908.  Her article for the London magazine, the Spectator, was originally to have been entitled "A Notable Walk", but the title was later embellished by an editor to be "The Finest Walk in the World".  Even these days the title has stuck and around 100 people per day now ply the track.  50% guided staying in the fancy huts with a glass of chardonnay at the end of the day, 50% DOC freedom walkers.

You can find out more about the Milford Track by visiting the DOC website.