New Zealand South Island: Routeburn Track Day Walk

Located 1 hour drive away from Queenstown, Routeburn Track is recommended by many of the city’s travel guides. Rated number 10 of the worlds Top 10 Classic hikes, it is proudly introduced by Ultimate Hikes New Zealand as

an epic alpine walk with stunning vistas of sweeping valleys below and majestic peaks above

Since the 1880’s the Routeburn Track has proved to be one of the most accessible and popular journeys into New Zealand’s forests and mountains.

The Routeburn Track passes through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring, and is part of Te Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The area is a haven for native birdlife: the Robin; Fantail; Parakeet; Bellbird; Yellowhead and watch out for the resident Kea at Routeburn Falls! The variety of landscapes will astound you: mountainous peaks; sheer rock faces; alpine basins; pristine lakes; cascading waterfalls; luxuriant forest; turquoise rivers and million dollar views around every corner.

The trail runs 24 miles and an one-way hike from end to end could take 3 to 4 days. As we came short of time, we decided to pretend that we accomplish the track by doing the starting and ending sections of the track: a round trip from Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut on the first day, and another hike to Key Summit on the second day on our way back from Milford Sound cruise trip.

Department of Conservations’s official website gives us the track map and details:

The summit on the far left is the Key Summit.

So, what’s to see?


The first 2 hours of hike (I would rather call it a walk) were spent effortlessly. We were basically walking through woods, encountering a bunch of bridges with creeks running beneath…




Soon we reached the Routeburn Flats…



Finally, some decent elevation to keep us challenged…




But it didn’t last long until we reached Routeburn Falls Hut…


The Routeburn Fall…


Spent another 2.5 hours backtracking to the starting point…IMG_1213


Many of us had agreed that the first part of the trail from Routeburn shelter to Routeburn Falls underwhelming. But we failed to deny that the drive all the way from Queenstown to Glenorchy along the peaceful Lake Wakatipu accompanied by snow-capped ranges was a cornucopia of delight:

IMG_1099 - IMG_1103


And of course, Sheep Kings.. (or Queens?)


The second day on our way back from Milford Sound to Queenstown, we parked at The Divided to go for the Key Summit, a 3 hour round-trip hike…



Although NZ’s Department of Conservation described this section as an easy hike suitable for family, I would rather consider it is moderate, as the elevation, albeit not drastic, still stretched for quite a while…


Make sure not to miss this turn =P


We knew were in for a treat when we aspired the majestic Ailsa Mountains and Humboldt Mountains on our way the summit.IMG_1608


Once at Key Summit,  the panoramic view of the Darran and Humboldt Mountains uncovered our inner yogis…


Although we had left half of the Routeburn Track unexplored, I’m not disappointed by the breathtaking sceneries we admired en route.

Visit the New Zealand’s Department of Conservation website for track maps and transportation information for Routeburn Track and Key Summit.


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