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Out and Back on the Routeburn

Boulder, Colorado
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Out and Back on the Routeburn

Hello! I've seen plenty of posts on a one day out and back, but can't seem to find any advice on a two day (overnight) out and back on the Routeburn. My husband and I are experienced hikers and backpackers on a limited budget, and the full tramp with huts and shuttles is so expensive that we were thinking of booking just one hut, either the Mackenzie Lake or Routeburn Falls, and doing an overnight from either end during our March visit.

I've seen lots of suggestions for the side trips to both Key Summit and Conical Hill. Any suggestions for the best use of two days with one overnight in a hut? I'd guess we could probably do about 20km a day, if I am understanding that the trails are relatively well maintained and there's only about 2000ft elevation gain.

We'll have a campervan and are planning on parking at a trailhead; is one easier to get to than the other? And is either safer to leave a campervan (we don't own anything really expensive, but I'd rather not have to pay to repair a window in a rental van) at than the other?

Thanks!

Auckland, New...
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349 posts
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1. Re: Out and Back on the Routeburn

Hi LMSCo,

It is a pity you can't do the whole track, but if you can't:

My suggestion would be to go from the Glenorchy end staying overnight at at Routeburn falls, then leave early in the morning and walk further up the track, perhaps you will have time to do conical hill before returning to the Routeburn shelter. That route takes you through the nicest forest on the track, and up past Lake Harris to the highest point, so you will get the view of the Darran Mountains (on a clear day). You miss the best waterfall (Earland falls) and Lake McKenzie is a really nice place to stay as well, but personally I would go in from Glenorchy. It's well worth the drive out to Glenorchy in any event.

Also, if you are heading to Te Anau or Milford at some stage, you can do Key Summit fairly easily from the Divide, so you won't miss that part. The track is very well maintained especially from either end, so you will be able to cover a fair distance with an early start. In fact, if you start early the first day you could look at the North branch of the Routeburn, as the hike in to Routeburn falls is not that long.

I don't really know how secure the car parks are or whether one is better than the other.

Hope this helps.

Edited: 3:27 am, January 07, 2012
Boulder, Colorado
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2. Re: Out and Back on the Routeburn

Thanks hikeanddive,

It isn't that we can't do the whole track, it is that we're thinking our money would be better spent exploring other parts of New Zealand - it looks like it will cost the two of us at least $430 NZD to do the full through hike staying in the huts, and that's a freedom tramp! That just seems so pricey for a tramp, beautiful though it may be, and we're hoping we can experience as much of the beauty as possible without having to fork over that amount of money.

It's a hard decision to make! Is the complete tramp worth the extra money, when an out and back would cost us only $100 NZD?

Thanks for the advice!

Edited: 1:33 pm, January 09, 2012
Auckland, New...
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349 posts
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3. Re: Out and Back on the Routeburn

Hi LMSCo,

Yes, the logistics for the Routeburn are a bit awkward as it such a long way by road from one end to the other. I guess most of your cost is in transport, as I think the hut fees are pretty reasonable all things considered. The other ways around the transport issue are:

Combine the track with either the Greenstone or Caples, making in a circular route from the Glenorchy end. I did the Greenstone, it's a nice enough track but no comparison with the Routeburn. That does add two full days though, and you might not have time available.

You could look at the Kepler track instead, which is a circular route.

4. Re: Out and Back on the Routeburn

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