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Kepler Track - Ultimate Guide to the Te Anau Hike

Fiordland is currently home to three of New Zealand’s 'Great Walks', the newest of which is the Kepler Track. Beginning and ending in Te Anau, the track offers a scenic trek designed specifically for the joy of hiking in nature. 

Like any wilderness adventure, proper preparation is essential for hiking the Kepler Track, especially with Fiordland’s famously changeable weather patterns. Below we’ve covered what you need to know for a well-planned Kepler Track journey. 

Kepler Track Sunrise

Track Overview

While Fiordland’s other multi-day hikes were born from Māori greenstone trails and the footprints of pioneers, the Kepler Track was purpose-built purely for hiking pleasure.

Kea on the Kepler Track, Luxe Tours NZ

Opened in 1988, the Kepler was meticulously designed to showcase Fiordland’s best features. The Kepler allows you to traverse through moss-draped beech forest, witness the prolific bird life, ascend through tussock high country, marvel at mountain ranges, view cascading waterfalls, stroll along tranquil river flats and glacier-carved valleys, and admire intricate limestone formations. 

As well as breathtaking scenery, the thoughtful track construction also eases the journey. Bridges span most streams, boardwalks pass over boggy terrain, and the steeper stretches boast well-placed steps.

Location and Duration

The Kepler Track is a 60 km (around 37 miles) loop track located in Fiordland National Park on the lower West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Beginning and ending in Te Anau at the carpark beside the 'Te Anau Control Gates', the trail traverses the eastern part of the Kepler Mountains, with a fitness challenging climb up the loved Luxmore Mountain to the first hut, then across the tops at an altitude of about 1400m before descending to the lower reach of the Iris Burn and on the final day, following the west bank of the Waiau River back to the carpark.

Kepler Track Map

The full multi-day hike can be completed in either direction, is rated at an intermediate hiking level, and takes around three days to complete, with the highest track point being Mount Luxmore at 1472 m/4829 ft.

Kepler Track Climb and Elevation

Track Facilities and Accommodation

The Department of Conservation (DOC) operates 3 huts and 2 campsites along the track:

Kepler Track Luxmore Hut

Kepler Track Huts:

Kepler Track Luxmore Hut

Kepler Track Campsites:

Kepler Track Luxmore Hut

Hut Facilities in the Great Walks Season

During the Great Walks season (late October to late April), a DOC ranger is stationed in the huts, and the huts provide emergency radio facilities, bunks, mattresses, heating, gas cooking stations, solar-powered lighting, flush toilets, and cold running water. The huts don’t provide food, cooking supplies, or showers. 

Hut Facilities Outside the Great Walks Season

Outside of the Great Walks season (early May to late October), there are no DOC rangers at the huts and the facilities are reduced. No gas is available, no running water inside the huts (water can be collected from the tank taps outside the huts), and no emergency radio services. There are also pit toilets instead of flush toilets. 

Campsite Facilities 

The campsites provide non-powered tent sites, non-flush toilets, sinks, and cold running water from the nearby tap. If you stay at one of the campsites, you cannot use the hut facilities. 

Note: The water available at the huts and campsites is not treated, so be sure to boil it before using it. 

Flora and Fauna Sightings

The lower areas of the track primarily pass through native beech forest where you will see and hear a range of native forest birds, such as the Kererū (NZ wood pigeon) and South Island Robbin. Along the track you may also hear the Tokoeka (Southern Brown Kiwi), and you may even be lucky enough to spot one fossicking for ground insects at night. 

Kepler Track Mountains

At higher track elevations, you’ll pass through native tussock grasslands and might spot the New Zealand falcon/kārearea hunting in the mountains, where it can reach speeds of up to 100km/hr when chasing prey. 

In alpine sections, you’ll also likely see kea, New Zealand’s famous cheeky mountain parrots that like to explore people and their camping gear, so keep an eye on your tent if you have one, and guard your gear so it doesn’t get damaged or go missing. 

Know Before You Go

When to Go

Kepler Track in Winter, Luxe Tours NZ

The best time to hike the track is during the Great Walks season, which lasts from late October to late April every year. During this time there are more hut facilities available, DOC rangers along the track, more settled weather, and fewer hazards. 

You should only hike the Kepler Track outside of the Great Walks season if you are an experienced hiker who is very fit and well-equipped. 

Because Fiordland’s weather is so changeable, there is a high risk of severe weather conditions, snow-covered alpine areas, ice, and slips along the track during the off-season. If you do decide to go in the off-season, ensure you check the weather conditions regularly and check in with the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau before you go.

Bookings and Prices

Booking both the huts and campsites well in advance is essential during the Great Walks season, and you can book these from the DOC bookings page. If you don’t have a booking, you might be charged a fee or turned away if there are no spaces available at the huts or campsites. 

Below is a summary of booking requirements and prices for the Kepler Track throughout the year:

Prices During the Great Walks season:

Prices for NZ residents and those living long-term in NZ:


Adult 18+ years: NZD$68 per person, per night

Child 17 years and under: free, but you still need to book the space for each night


Adult 18+ years: NZD$21 per night

Child 17 years and under: free but booking is still needed

You’ll also need to provide eligibility proof for the NZ rate, and information on what can be used as proof is available here

Prices for International visitors:


Adult 18+ years: NZD$102 per person, per night

Child 17 years and under: NZD$51 per person, per night


Adult 18+ years: NZD$32 per night

Child 17 years and under: NZD$16 per night

Prices Outside the Great Walks season: 

Bookings are not required outside of the Great Walks season, and the huts and campsites are first come, first served. To access the track huts, you can either buy Back Country Hut tickets from the DOC visitor centre in Te Anau, or you can buy a Back Country Hut pass online

Off-season prices for all visitors:


Adult 18+ years): NZD$25 per person, per night

Child 17 years and under: free


Adult 18+ years: NZD$10 per person, per night

Child 17 years and under: free

Note: The full track is not recommended for children under 10 years. The full track is ranked at an intermediate level, and some areas may be too difficult for young kids to navigate.

How to Access the Kepler Track:

The Kepler Track starts and ends in Te Anau, and you can access the track from several locations:

  • The Kepler Track car park at Te Anau Control Gates: 5 km drive from Te Anau. (Map here)

  • Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre: 50 min walk along the Te Anau lakefront to the track entrance. (Map here)

  • Rainbow Reach car park: 12 km drive from Te Anau. (Map here)

Rainbow Reach Kepler Track

During the Great Walks season, you can book a shuttle to and from the entry and exit points of the track, and you can also book a water taxi with Fiordland Outdoors across the lake to Brod Bay, skipping the first 6km of the track.

Outside of the Great Walks season, transport options may be limited, and transport must be arranged in advance. Operators require minimum numbers to run in the off-season, so they don’t always run a daily service. 

Check out Visit Fiordland’s page for the various transport options and prices. 

Packing essentials:

For the full multi-day on-season hike you’ll need:

  • Backpack 

  • Waterproof/plastic pack liner

  • Sleeping bag 

  • First aid kit 

  • Survival kit 

  • Map and compass

  • Torch and spare batteries

  • Rubbish bag

  • Booking confirmation and ID

  • An emergency shelter, for if you are trapped by flooded rivers or bad weather

  • A distress beacon

  • Light-weight food items

  • Cooking supplies

  • Water bottle

  • A set of clothing for the day and another set for the night

  • Matches or a lighter

  • Toiletries, including insect repellant, sunscreen, and personal medication

  • Toilet paper

Additional items If camping: a tent, gas cooker, ground sheet.Hiking in the off-season will require more clothing items and a gas cooker for the huts, as no gas will be available.

 For a comprehensive Great Walks packing list, check out this page from Fiordland Outdoors.

Safety Tips:

Alternative Kepler Track Experiences

If you don’t want to do the full multi-day hike of the Kepler Track, there are also day hike options available. Day hikes are also a great way to experience the Kepler Track if you have young children who can’t do the full hike. 

Self-Guided Day Hikes

Round the Bay Hike

Fiordland Outdoors Kepler Water Taxi

This day hike is great for families and takes around 3hrs to complete. Embark on the Kepler Track starting from the town centre, opting for an easy stroll around the southern tip of Lake Te Anau. Utilise the Kepler Water Taxi for a convenient ride to Brod Bay's sandy shores and cover the 11 km journey on foot back. Experience the simplicity of the native beech forest and take in the expansive lake views. Don't miss the chance to drop by the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary (free entry, donations appreciated) to catch a glimpse of the famous rare Takahē bird. 


Carpark to Luxmore Hut Hike

Kepler Track Day Walk

This day hike is a more challenging, full-day hiking option offering spectacular views of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, as well as the Te Anau basin on one side, and the Murchison and Kepler Mountains on the other.

Begin at the Kepler Track car park, tracing the lakeshore to Dock Bay and then to Brod Bay, both boasting great swimming beaches.

As you progress from Brod Bay, the trail ascends sharply through mountain and silver beech forest, passing beneath limestone bluffs approximately two hours into the hike. Continue toward the bush line for expansive panoramic views.

At this point, another 45 minutes of walking leads you to Luxmore Hut, perched at an elevation of 1085 metres.

Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut

Cut out the first 5km of the Kepler Track for a short but challenging walk form Brod Bay up to Luxmore Hut, taking about five hours return. You can easily skip across the lake aboard the Kepler Water Taxi run by Fiordland Outdoors for $50 per adult & $30 per child. The journey takes only 10mins however it cuts off about 1.5 hours of walking, plus when you return down the mountain, the sight of a waiting boat to transport you quickly back to Te Anau is very welcome.

Guided Day Hikes

During the Great Walks season, guided day hikes of the Kepler Track are available, and different operators will bring their own unique charm to the Kepler experience. 

Heli Hike

Experience a scenic helicopter flight up to Luxmore Hut for expansive views, then descend on a relatively challenging hike through lush beech forest while learning about the area, wildlife, and local conservation efforts. 

  • Price ranges: NZD$650-1500 depending on package options

  • Duration: 6.5-7.5hrs


Boat and Hike

With this option, you receive a lake jet boat experience and an easy hike of the Kepler, witnessing spectacular landscape views while an expert guide provides insights into the area and wildlife.  

  • Price ranges: Adults: NZD$350-800 depending on package options

  • Children: NZD$150-300 depending on package options

  • Duration: 5.5-8hrs


Fiordland Jet Hike & Jet

Staying In Te Anau

We recommend staying in Te Anau for at least one night on either side of your hike to ensure you’re well-rested. Te Anau has a range of accommodation options available, such as luxury lodges, hotels & motels, Airbnb, backpackers, and camping grounds. 

Te Anau also provides a range of great activity options to add to your Fiordland trip, such as the mystical glow worm cave tour and the lake-to-lake cycle trail.

For everything you need to know about Te Anau, including activities and where to stay, check out our Ultimate Guide to Te Anau

A hike on the Kepler Track encapsulates the sheer beauty of Fiordland’s marvellous landscapes. With thoughtful planning, you’ll receive an ideal Fiordland hiking experience that showcases everything exquisite about this little corner of the world. 

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