The Routeburn Track & Greenstone and Caples Walks
Three of Fiordland’s Great Walks, the Routeburn, Greenstone and Caples Walks begin at The Divide car park on the Milford Road and branch off to your right along the valleys of the same names.
Stay at Milford Sound Lodge before or after your hike
Relax & indulge with a stay at Milford Sound Lodge before or after your hike. There’s nothing more special than spending a night or two in a luxurious riverside chalet or comfortable twin room after several days of hiking. Communal transport is available on this route in the form of shuttle busses – ensure you book in advance to reserve your space. Or, choose to have your car relocated from the start of your hike to the end of your hike with Easyhike’s Routeburn Track car relocation service.
The Key Summit Track: A Taster For Fiordland’s Many Memorable Walking & Hiking Experiences
If you fancy a quick taster, the Key Summit track follows the Routeburn Track for about an hour before peeling off for a 30-minute climb to the summit. In the last ice age Key Summit was buried under 500 metres of ice, but now it towers 500 metres above the valley floor.
The first Europeans to climb it were two local farmers, David McKellar and George Gunn of Lake Gunn fame, in 1861. In doing so they were also the first to see the Hollyford Valley, scene of a colourful piece of local history and home of the wonderfully diverse walking experience that is the Hollyford Track.
We definitely recommend the climb on a clear day because you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. You’ll discover alpine meadows, squelchy bogs and crystal clear tarns, all without having to trek for days on end. It’s a good opportunity to cheat, and soak up some stunning alpine scenery in a fraction of the time you need to allocate for Fiordland’s multi-day treks! Make sure you dress warmly though, it can get a bit nippy up there!
Three Treks to Rival The Famous Milford Track
The car park is also the starting point for three long-distance walks, which are just as rewarding as the Milford Track. In fact, there are plenty of dedicated trampers who’ll swear that the tracks up here are even better than the Milford!
The Greenstone runs north, the Routeburn heads south, and the Caples Track leaves the Greenstone and goes around the other side of the mountains before rejoining it at the far end, on Lake Wakatipu, which is the longest lake in New Zealand — and the one on which Queenstown sits.
If you are interested in tackling any of these longer walks independently, you need to book with the DOC, because like the Milford Track they take several days, and have overnight accommodation in huts. You can also join a guided walk along the Routeburn.
The Routeburn Track
The Routeburn Track opened in the 1880s. It takes three days and offers magical panoramas across glaciers, frosted peaks and the tranquil mountain lakes. On day two you also get a good view of the Fiordland’s highest mountain, the mighty Mount Tutoko, as well as incredible views across the mountains and even out to the sea!
The track heads north and then east right up into the Serpentine Mountains, eventually descending to meet the tarmac, where you can hop on a bus into Glenorchy or all the way to Queenstown.
The Greenstone Track
The Greenstone Track heads south after striking out on the same route as the Routeburn around the base of Key Summit. It runs at a lower altitude, following the Greenstone River all the way to Lake Wakatipu, so there are not so many steep bits, and plenty of fast-flowing water and forest. The flatter terrain means you can do it in two days.
The Caples Track
The Caples Track also takes about two days. It leaves the Greenstone Valley, then cuts across to the Caples River and then follows that down to where it joins with the Greenstone River near its mouth. Both the Greenstone and Caples Tracks are good if you’d prefer a less demanding trek.
Other Fiordland multi-day walks: