New Zealand clearly has some outstanding walking treks. The Key Summit track via the Routeburn Track was my favorite of the ones we did on the South Island. The half day trek within Fiordland National Park was challenging enough for us that we used our hiking sticks, and we were rewarded with spectacular views.
We were treated to some great hiking weather that day so the conditions were just about perfect for a day trek.
Great Walk tracks are of high quality meaning the tracks are well formed & easy to follow. In some cases you can have 2 people walking side by side. Not that we walked side by side much as I kept stopping to take photos.
The full length of the Routeburn Track is 32k and can take between 2-4 days total.
The Routeburn Track has two starting and finishing points and may be walked in either direction. One track end is at the Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68km from Queenstown). The other is at The Divide (on the Milford Road, 85km from Te Anau).
We did not complete the whole trek, just the 3 hour hike to Key Summit.
The Key Summit walk passes through a range of native vegetation: beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands, alpine tarns and bogs like the one above.
During the last ice age, which ended about 14,000 years ago, a huge glacier flowed down the Hollyford Valley and overtopped Key Summit by 500 metres, with ice branches splitting off into the Eglinton and Greenstone Valleys.
The view was a bit cloudy but below (or in the photo above as well) you can see in the distance Lake Marian. Way off to the right. If you squint!
The first part of the walk is on the Routeburn Track, and a track sign marks the turn off to Key Summit. You can reach it from The Divide, about 85 km along the Milford Road from Te Anau (1.5 hours drive).
We did this trek in September and the weather was perfect. Starting in October the facilities may be reduced as its the beginning of winter. If you can only do one trek in the Fiordland National Park, and have limited time, this is one we highly recommend.
If you have any questions other questions about this trek please leave it in the comments below! We’re happy to help.