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Routeburn - which part?

Krakow, Poland
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Routeburn - which part?

Hi Guys,

I want to spend 2 days on Routeburn Track. Initially I planned to hike it from one end to the other but when I looked into options of returning to the start point to pick up my car, they proved to be too expensive (ca 200-250$). In the end I decided to go to either Routeburn Falls Hut or to Lake Mackenzie Hut and have a sleep there. On the next day I would do some more hiking and return to the starting point.

Those of you who completed the hike - could you advise me which part of the track has more "highlights" on the way (better views, more interesting, etc.) - the half starting from Divide or the one from the Shelter? Maybe they are equally worth seeing? I'd really appreciate your comments on that.

Cheers

Piotr

Auckland, New...
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1. Re: Routeburn - which part?

Hi,

You are not going to like this, but for me the best day was the hike between MackEnzie and Routeburn falls, along the Hollyford Face we got a spectacular view of the Darran Mountains. Going from either end would be OK, but I might go from the Routeburn shelter and aim to go to the Harris Shelter and maybe even do Conical hill.

The track is logistically difficult due to it being such a long trip back by road. An alternative is to combine the track with the Greenstone or Caples and make it a 4 night hike. If you do this you should start on the Greenstone or Caples because while these are nice tracks they are way behind the Roiuteburn and would be an anticlimax if done the other way. We did the Greenstone, it is much easier than the Caples which has a knee-jarring descent into the Greenstone Valley.

San Antonio, Texas
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2. Re: Routeburn - which part?

I only dayhiked up to Harris Saddle, but have to concur that the section between Routeburn Falls and Harris Saddle is way more scenic than is the hike up to Routeburn Falls. I can't believe you see people in town down in Glenorchy recommending the hike to Routeburn Falls Hut when the route becomes 10x as scenic within 15 minutes of passing Routeburn Falls Hut. With the exception of the slip and one bridge, the hike between Routeburn Flats Hut and Routeburn Falls Hut is devoid of views, though the section from Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut is very scenic with all the blue water, ferns, moss, etc.

If you end up doing the side from Glenorchy, absolutely continue on to Harris Saddle that first day if you have good weather after dropping your sleeping bag and dinner off at the Routeburn Falls Hut. I felt kind of bad for all these hikers I saw who stopped at Routeburn Falls Hut the day I hiked it. I told them they absolutely need to see the saddle on a clear day like the one I was on. The next day ended up having some big storms and Harris Saddle was probably extremely nasty that day.

Edited: 3:40 pm, February 13, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
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3. Re: Routeburn - which part?

I wrote a review of the Routeburn Shelter to Harris Saddle section on the main Routeburn page here if you're interested in a few more details:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g255124-d273…

San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: Routeburn - which part?

I'd also say the dayhike between Routeburn Shelter and Harris Saddle isn't at all difficult on a clear day with good weather since the altitudes are so low. A 6:30AM start will give you tons of time to do it if you'd rather backpack the section from The Divide when you're in the Te Anau area and then come back and dayhike the section to Harris Saddle when you're in the Glenorchy area.

San Antonio, Texas
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5. Re: Routeburn - which part?

Just seemed like there was so much water (to be fair, I did it in November) so that your daypack weight can also be really low (e.g., just raingear, warm cap, gloves, snacks, and a little bit of water until you reach the next place to refill).

Krakow, Poland
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6. Re: Routeburn - which part?

Thanks Guys for your great comments. Both of you recommend to start from the shelter. There's a very important reason that I would much more prefer to kick off from Divine. Right after the Routeburn I'll head to Te Anau for Milford Track...

I thought that on the first day I could start from Divine, do the Key Summit side trip and finally arrive to Mackenzie Hut. On the next day I would leave my gear in the hut, start early in the morning, hike to Harris Saddle, go back to the hut to pick up backpack and return to Divine. In ca 10h, with moderate weather and fitness I should be able to do this according to some track descriptions I've read.

After your posts I'm not so sure anymore. Though choice...

Krakow, Poland
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7. Re: Routeburn - which part?

One more question. I've read in this forum that it's not so wise to leave a car at the Divine. Has anyone have own experience regarding that? Are Kea birds really that kind of threat to vehicles?

Auckland, New...
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8. Re: Routeburn - which part?

It's really hard to know how much you can do in a day. The walking times on the DOC website are reasonably conservative, but you could be limited by the weather conditions of course. At the other extreme, the record for the Routreburn challenge track RUN is less than 3 hours. I find that feat quite staggering, I'm definitely closer to to the DOC hiking estimate!

But yes, if you are a fit hiker, you get an early start and the weather is OK you could get from McKenzie to Harris Saddle and back to The Divide in a longish day.

Auckland, New...
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9. Re: Routeburn - which part?

Keas have been known to peck at the wipers and rubber door seals. I wouldn't worry too much about that. But cars get broken in to by thieves from time to time and they tend to do serious damage to the locks and/or windows even if they don't find any valuables. I'm not sure how much of a problem it is at the Divide car park.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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10. Re: Routeburn - which part?

I wouldn't count on being able to do Mackenzie hut to Harris Saddle AND back to The Divide ( "Divine" sounds too cuteL,OL) in a day AND drive to Te Anau to sleep. Most trampers find Mackenzie to the Divide takes 2/3 of a day, with the drive back to Te Anau the rest of the day.

Remember why you are there! Presumably to enjoy the wilderness, not set some sort of Olympic record like the crazy alpine runners.