The Kepler Track is a good introduction to New Zealand's selection of Great Walks. It's a relatively easy trek that can be completed by anyone who's fit, and although the first day and the start of the second day involve a fair amount of climbing, this is a much easier track than the nearby Routeburn-Greenstone or Hollyford-Pyke. Accommodation along the way is of the highest quality, and if you're looking for a rewarding walk but don't want to push yourself beyond your limits, the Kepler fits the bill.
One of the charms of the Kepler Track is the combination of different types of walking, all in one easy circuit that starts and ends very near to the bustling town of Te Anau. The first day involves a fairly long and steep climb up to Luxmore Hut, but although this is a pretty tiring start to a long walk like this, it's well worth the effort. The views from the top are of forested mountains and placid lakes, and if the weather is clear the sunset is truly beautiful. Add in the bizarre cave not far from the hut, and all of a sudden that steep climb doesn't seem so bad.
The track continues to climb on day 2, but it's nowhere as steep as on day 1, and the views are just as gorgeous. However the end of the day sees the track enter a forested valley, and if you're lucky you'll spot a kea or two in the wild (keas are mountain parrots, and they're real characters). For day 3 the track sticks to the lower levels, and Motarau Hut at the end of the walk is perched by the side of the lovely Lake Manapouri, making three different environments in three nights (mountain, forest and lake). Only day 4 is disappointing, but it's still an enjoyable trek.
The Kepler Track might not be as mind-blowing as some of New Zealand's tracks, but it's a great little walk, and perfect for those who are new to long-distance walking.
You're not going to have any problems following the Kepler Track; it's a well-signed motorway, as are most of New Zealand's Great Walks. The track starts and ends at the control gates at the southern end of Lake Te Anau, heading anti-clockwise in a large loop. The following itinerary is the one that most people follow:
|Control Gates to Luxmore Hut
|Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut
|Iris Burn Hut to Moturau Hut
|Moturau Hut to Control Gates
As this is a Great Walk you need to book your hut accommodation in advance. You can do this at the DOC office in Te Anau, but at peak times you should book well in advance. The Kepler Track is a very popular walk.