Another Great Walk (Part Five) – The Kepler Track

“On a Mish” #169 Another Great Walk (Part Five). The Kepler Track. Fiordland National Park. 6.5.2010. I once worked on the Humpridge Track which is located on the Fiordland South Coast at the bottom of the South Island. The track as recently become a ‘Great Walk’ and just like with the Kepler Track, the hike is so much more than just a great walk. Both walks were once just rough trails followed by hunters, and I always wonder if those hunters ever imagined that one day the mountaintop routes would become part of the most managed hiking tracks in New Zealand…

Normally there is a calmness felt when getting up and having breakfast in a stunning location like Iris Burn Hut. However, our morning burst into life thanks to some foolish fellas tipping over their multifuel cooker. After a couple of seconds Jeremy and I realised that the pair were stunned into stillness and action needed to be taken. While I fetched the fire extinguisher Jeremy wet a tea-towel and smothered the flames. The occupants of the Iris Burn Hut lounge / kitchen were now fully awake!

After witnessing the hut nearly burning down, we wanting to get away from the hut and away from any potential drama. Unfortunately, the drama would come to us, as by the time we got to where the Iris Burn (river) meets Lake Manapouri and as we looked at the orange triangles disappearing into the water, we remembered that it wasn’t just Lake Te Anau that was swollen to a point where it covered large sections of the track. See ya later dry boots!

By this point we were fully focused on finishing the mish. The wetness was just part of our journey home and with all the other action we had seen some still water didn’t seem like much of an issue.

Our trek took us past Moturau Hut which is the fourth and final hut on the track and is slightly smaller due to many hiking from Iris Burn Hut to the track end. After a quick look at the hut, we pushed on in the direction of Rainbow Reach.

Rainbow Reach is a car park 11km away from where the track starts at the Lake Te Anau Control Gate. During the evening at Iris Burn Hut we had hatched a plan where we would drive one of the guides cars which was stashed at the car park, and then drive to the control gates to get our car, and then return the guides car back to Rainbow Reach.

The cars were swapped and with that our Kepler Track adventure was over. It was a trip full of highs with a little bit of added drama tacked on for variety. We had wandered through water and stood up to a snowstorm. We had climbed beautiful mountains, marvelled at pristine waterways and waterfalls, and also enjoyed the comfort and companionship found in a quality hiking hut. With absolute certainty I can stay that the Kepler Track while being part of the ‘Great Walk’ system, it is so much more than just a great walk!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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