Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> Otago, Southland, Fiordland (New Zealand)

the Kepler Track - across the tops

Sunday 9th February

When we set off around 9am it was clear with some clouds, but the mist gradually settled on us. We did the side-trip to climb Mount Luxmore, but there were pretty much no views from the top, just occasional glimpses of Lake Te Anau. So I took photos of plants at the top instead.


cloud over Lake Te Anau

Mount Luxmore in the mist

lichen and moss on Mount Luxmore

the dunny at Forest Burn shelter

I was afraid the whole day would be like that, but it started clearing soon aftewards and most of it was glorious. If the number of photos I took is a guide, this was the most scenic day of the entire New Zealand trip.

Forest Burn shelter had a dramatically placed dunny (Australian slang for outdoor toilet). Murielle's knee was bad - she was clearly limping, especially going downhill - but one of the other walkers had lent her a walking stick and that helped.


Kea photographing frenzy

A bird-watching interlude

A separate page has an account of our encounter with two Kea/New Zealand parrots - and some closeup photographs.

As we continued along the track the views became even better, with 360 degree panoramas in some places (for the purists, sometimes spoilt by tiny bits of farmland at Te Anau).


looking towards the Kepler mountains

looking over south arm at the Murchison mountains

the track heads down the final alpine section

We had lunch just before Hanging Valley shelter. Murielle's knee was really bad and she was taking painkillers, so Camilla and I started carrying some stuff for her.


looking up Iris Burn at the Kepler Mountains
There was a final set of all-around views from a lookout point just before the long descent (700m) to Iris Burn hut started. Murielle's knee was worst going downhill, but fortunately the track zig-zagged enough that she made it down without problems.

We got into Iris Burn hut around 6. I grabbed us places in the big bunkroom - where there were no beds, just mattresses on the floor - then Camilla and I did the 20 minute walk upstream to the waterfall. Camilla was all geared up for a swim - it was still quite warm - but by the time she'd finished stripping to her bikini [inclusion of a photograph has been vetoed] there were a dozen sandflies on her back, and swimming was quickly aborted. There were also sandflies around the hut - they were bad in the toilets, but fortunately the ones that got into the kitchen clustered on the windows and weren't a problem.

It wasn't a bad hut, by any means, but I definitely preferred the other two we stayed in. During the hut ticket check and safety talk, the hut warden mentioned that there was a pair of kiwi over the river and that they could be heard at night.

Camilla and I went insect spotting and saw some spiders and huntsmen, but no weta. We did, however, hear the kiwi calling to one another, the male with a high pitched call and the female with a strange, low coughing call. We had a brief conversation in the dark with a camper at the nearby campsite. (There are campsites here and at Brod Bay, so you can do the walk in three days without using the huts.) It had been a long but most enjoyable day.

Next: Kepler Track - down Iris Burn
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