It can be a logistical challenge to hike the Routeburn Track – here at New Zealand Walking Tours we live just a 45 minute drive from the trail-head (near the small town of Glenorchy, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu), yet we rarely hike the Routeburn in its entirety. The reason being, the Routeburn Track is a A to B hiking trail, taking you through the giant granite mountains of Fiordland National Park, and leaving you many hours of driving to get back to your car at the trail head. But there is great news, a guided hiking tour will take care of these logistics, and both ends of the Routeburn Track have stunning return hikes, also removing these troublesome logistics!

Read on to discover your hiking options on the Routeburn Track Great Walk.

Routeburn track lake and mountain peak

The Routeburn Track at a glance:

  • Starts near Glenorchy, Otago. Trailhead is 1 hour’s drive from Queenstown.
  • Ends at The Divide carpark on the Milford Road, where Key Summit day hike begins.
  • 32 kilometres long (19.9 miles).
  • Typically takes two nights, three days to complete.

What we’ll do:

  • Key Summit day hike – starts and ends at the Divide carpark on the Milford Road – around 3 hours round trip.
  • Hike from the trail head near Glenorchy, towards huts at Routeburn Flats and Routeburn Falls.

Map of Routeburn Track day hikes:

Which trips include the Routeburn Track day walks?

Beautiful South – 10 days, Queenstown to Queenstown.
Pristine New Zealand – 13 days, Auckland to Queenstown.

Where is the Routeburn Track?

The Routeburn Track is close behind the Milford Track and the Tongariro Crossing as one of New Zealand’s most famous Great Walks. It is 32km (19.9miles) in length and begins at the Routeburn Shelter just outside the small town of Glenorchy in Otago, and ends at The Divide, on State Highway 94 – the Milford Road – in Fiordland National Park.

What’s so special about the Routeburn Track?

We’ve chosen to include sections of the Routeburn Track on our trips because it is an opportunity to experience a wide spectrum of different landscapes in the time it takes to do a few hours of walking. For example – the Key Summit day walk begins when you step out of the car park and in to the thick beech forest that blankets much of Fiordland National Park. As we continue to walk uphill towards Key Summit, we’ll pass a cascading waterfall and emerge from the forest into, initially, flax (a large native tall grass plant) scrub, and manuka bush. In turn, this less dense, low growing bush gives way to tussock grass, and eventually to alpine mosses and areas of wetland. So the journey to Key Summit offers a variety of different surroundings through which to walk, to achieve the stunning views from the top.

Key Summit looks out across the Ailsa, Humboldt, and Darran Mountains, and down to the Hollyford River Valley. It is a truly stunning day walk, and to be able to access such stunning panoramic views, and a sense of the scale of Fiordland National Park, on a relatively short day walk, makes this one too good not to include on our trips.

At the other end of the Routeburn Track – which is traditionally the start, whilst Key Summit is the end – we’ll walk the section alongside the Routeburn River. The track leads us through silver, red, and mountain beech forest, all the time following the beautiful, bright blue waters of the river, to Routeburn Flats Hut where we’ll eat a picnic lunch. It is amazing to see such beautiful, and well appointed ‘huts’ along the Routeburn Track, in a place that is so inaccessible and remote. It really needs to be seen to be believed, so don’t forget your camera!

For more information about the Routeburn Track, and to see how we explore it on our New Zealand Walking Tours simply request a free travel brochure below – or scroll down to see our trips.

Joe Sutheran
20:52 30 Oct 17
I had a great time in New Zealand with my parents, travelling with New Zealand Walking Tours. I know my parents were so happy they found this company, the activity level was spot on for them, and accommodations, food etc was never less than outstanding. I didn't have much to do with the company pre-trip, but I know my parents were extremely impressed with the communications, and preparation advice from the team behind the scenes. What I can say is that when it came to the trip itself, the guides were just a joy to be around, extremely enthusiastic, interested in their guests, and very knowledgeable. Being a bit younger than much of the group, I was a little apprehensive that I might not enjoy it, but I don't know what I was worried about! Spending time getting to know the others on the trip, as well as the guides, was a delight - but what meant the most to me was spending time with my parents without the burden of the 'real world' on any of us, just enjoying the moment and each other's company. Thank you New Zealand Walking Tours for showing us the best of your stunningly beautiful country, and giving all three of us happy memories we'll never forget.read more
Roxanne Theriault
05:27 02 Nov 17
Amazing company, everything is top notch and they take care of you from start to finish! Always friendly, helpful, personable and professional - what kiwi hospitality is so famous for! You won't regret going on a walking tour with these folks and you'll definitely be planning your next trip, once you're back home! Highly recommend!read more
Paul McDonald
21:13 30 Oct 17
I wanted to find a guiding company based in in New Zealand, with local guides. When I found out that New Zealand Walking Tours is part of the Active Adventures family, I was super confident to go ahead and arrange my trip. Exploring the Abel Tasman National Park by day and Awaroa Lodge by night was a massive highlight! I'll be back for sure.read more
Will Appelman
21:07 30 Oct 17
My wife and I are avid hikers, and New Zealand Walking Tours gave us the chance to explore a wide variety of New Zealand’s hiking trails – including amazing sections of the 9 Great Walks, and be rewarded with accommodations that are a step ahead of the competition, delicious locally sourced food and a tipple of New Zealand's finest local wine! But on our free day in Queenstown we met loads of local ‘Kiwis’ who hadn’t even heard of some of the trails we hiked along the way – it actually made us feel like the locals! In the same time it would have taken us to hike the Milford Track from start to finish (like we planned) we hiked an amazing section of the famous track, while also taking a boat cruise on Milford Sound and getting flown by helicopter from Milford Sound to the most incredible and isolated luxury lodge in the Hollyford. We then jet boated out across a lake before a beautiful walk back to civilisation on the Hollyford Track. Before our trip, Fiona worked out exactly the perfect trip to suit what we were looking for, and Lynette was an amazing help getting us ready to depart - making sure we packed everything we need, and not so much of what we didn't need. Highly recommended!read more
Miriam Houliston
05:19 02 Nov 17
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Routeburn River blue water

The bright blue waters of the Routeburn River, from the Glenorchy end (traditional start point).

Routeburn Falls Hut veranda

On the veranda of Routeburn Falls Hut.

Cabin interior, lodgings near Routeburn track start point.

A bedroom at Camp Glenorchy, the cabins we’ll stay in near the trail head of the Routeburn Track.

Snow-covered peaks from Routeburn Key Summit

Looking over to Mt Christina and Mt Crosscut from Key Summit on the Routeburn Track.

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