Kepler Track report

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Kepler Track report

Postby bigkev » Sun 12 Jul, 2015 12:54 pm

DSC_0596.JPG
Morning day 2 over Lake Te Anau, from Luxmore Hut.


With the weather in Melbourne this weekend being pretty diabolical I thought I'd get around to posting a couple of links for a tramp that I did on the Kepler Track last December.

I walked the track over four relaxing days staying at Luxmore, Iris Burn and Moturau Huts, in that order. The climb up on day 1 from the Lake Te Anau Control Gates was solid but apart from that it was a fairly cruisey tramp. I was very, very lucky in that I got four days in a row of sun and blue skies, apart from the usual sandflies, sunburn was my biggest annoyance. Like the other great walks that I've done in New Zealand the Kepler could be completed by anyone with some degree of fitness, its by no means a hardcore tramping track. That doesn't mean that its not worth doing though, the scenery that the track passes through is absolutely stunning, and the huts are all very well equipped and comfortable.

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Day 2 ridge walking high above Lake Te Anau.

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Some of my highlights on the tramp where sitting on top of Mt Luxmore in the late afternoon light on day 1, tramping the ridges above the tree line on day 2, an afternoon spent swimming in Lake Manapouri on day 3, and the reflections on Amoeboid Mire on day 4, but really there wasn't much not to like.

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Iris Burn Hut


If your interested I've written up a day by day trip report here http://hiking.topicwise.com/doc/kepler with 80 plus photos, or if you want the readers digest version I've done a blog post here http://goinferalonedayatatime.blogspot. ... aland.html with about 38 photos on it.

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Sunset over Lake Manapouri.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Sun 12 Jul, 2015 2:48 pm

great trip.
don't get complacent reading that report though, because a lot of the track is exposed sub alpine, the area is prone to severe weather year round,
i go down regularly, see snow in mid summer, torrential horizontal rain storms.. people getting hypothermia...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby bigkev » Sun 12 Jul, 2015 4:18 pm

Hi Wayne, yeah I got really lucky with the weather, my luck ran out a few days later on the Milford when I did indeed get some horizontal rain on the day over McKinnon Pass, I also copped it on the Hollyford Face on the Routeburn as well, such is life...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Sun 12 Jul, 2015 4:49 pm

shuttle driver told me if you get good weather on one, you won't get it on the next walk.. as long as people go prepared and pay attention to the weather they'll avoid a bit of a shock.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby moocow » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 5:54 pm

I followed the link and read the trip report - was a great read and the pics were fantastic too.
I then read your report about the Routeburn - can't say I really liked your comments about the guided walk -no wonder many people have a dislike for guided walkers if they feel they are a class above the others.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Tue 18 Dec, 2018 6:37 am

gloating to non guided walkers on the Routeburn who were eating freeze dried that you were eating steak was pretty tactless..
in todays money a couple will pay at least $2600 for the guided walk, more for a private room... most people will never afford that...
i've seldom seen the guided walkers give way to non guided walkers they plough along in large groups. hogging bridges while you wait for them to file over in small batches. they get helicoptered around if the weather is bad across the exposed section... they doubled the no's of beds in the guided huts against the Park management plan... they paid for the track to get smoothed out so now its getting more inundated with walkers and runners every year....
their huts are monstrosities in the bush way bigger than the DOC huts... you think you're getting away from it all then you come across their huts.... their helicopters shatter the silence, helicopters which are getting worse around that part of the south island, a request has been made for a tourist heliport to be put into the Rees Valley . they will fly all day long in the summer ... they buzz over your head on the kepler..
tramping isnt tourism and tourism isnt tramping.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby bigkev » Tue 18 Dec, 2018 12:34 pm

HI Guys, thanks for the feedback

moocow wrote:I followed the link and read the trip report - was a great read and the pics were fantastic too.
I then read your report about the Routeburn - can't say I really liked your comments about the guided walk -no wonder many people have a dislike for guided walkers if they feel they are a class above the others.


Sorry if it came across that I was a bit full of myself, I'd been eating 'a lot' of freeze dried in the month previously so to have a steak was pretty exciting for me....I didn't mean it as a class statement.

wayno wrote:gloating to non guided walkers on the Routeburn who were eating freeze dried that you were eating steak was pretty tactless..
in todays money a couple will pay at least $2600 for the guided walk, more for a private room... most people will never afford that...
i've seldom seen the guided walkers give way to non guided walkers they plough along in large groups. hogging bridges while you wait for them to file over in small batches. they get helicoptered around if the weather is bad across the exposed section... they doubled the no's of beds in the guided huts against the Park management plan... they paid for the track to get smoothed out so now its getting more inundated with walkers and runners every year....
their huts are monstrosities in the bush way bigger than the DOC huts... you think you're getting away from it all then you come across their huts.... their helicopters shatter the silence, helicopters which are getting worse around that part of the south island, a request has been made for a tourist heliport to be put into the Rees Valley . they will fly all day long in the summer ... they buzz over your head on the kepler..
tramping isnt tourism and tourism isnt tramping.


Believe it or not the whole guided walk/lodge/track improvement worries me too Wayne. At the moment in Australia we have quite a few developments on the plans in National Parks that I'm actively campaigning against. I'm not sure though where to draw the line, so to speak.....We've got tracks that have now been 'developed' like the Three Capes, Great Ocean Walk, Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail...all areas that I walked before the developments. Like the Milford and Routeburn, if I want to go back now it has to be on the developed tracks which I may be sharing with commercial walkers....does that mean I shouldn't do them again (I haven't been back to any of them yet), I'm not to sure what the answer is? I've been on both sides of the guided versus independent walkers divide both in Australia and internationally, although 99% of my walking is independent.

Apart from the environmental issues the other issue is etiquette and education, having been on a few lodge walks it's obvious that the majority of the punters on these walks have never been on multi night walks before. When it comes to sharing the tracks, bridges, DOC/public huts they just don't realise that they are being rude in a lot of cases. Sometimes they are that far out of their comfort zones that they are consumed with getting to the next 'safe' lodge and maybe aren't as relaxed as walkers who are more experienced.....don't think that I'm condoning bad manners though.

My blog/journals are meant to be a fairly light hearted diary of my life, I try and take the *&^%$#! out of myself as much as possible and not take things too seriously. I'm not the most hardcore walker going around but I'm not the softest either. Maybe I shouldn't of posted of my experience on the guided walks on Bushwalk.com but I figured that there are maybe some walkers out there that would be interested.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Tue 18 Dec, 2018 2:35 pm

fair enough, its easy to make a throw away line that inadvertently can be taken as offensive.
its a bit incoungruous when you put the well off infrastructure next to the more budget infrastructure... come winter the tracks go back to long drops at the DOC huts... and they ditch the gas... thers been issues with people stealth camping on teh great walks to avoid all fees. now the fees have been hiked, especially for foreigners going up to $140 a night on the fiordland great walks.. stealth camping may become a bigger issue.... people want to see the track and dont want to or struggle to spend the money... everyone wants to go on the great walks... its on their bucket list....
at the Routeburn falls hut, from the DOC hut you can see people sitting on the balcony of the guided hut if the weather is nice, sipping their evening alcoholic drinks and eating food that they didnt have to carry in... on the milford, one of the shelters is a tin shed that is right next to one of the guided walkers huts.... you're very aware you're a have not, especially when the weather isnt great... DOC staff tell you that you are forbidden from approaching the guided huts to ask for anything, because you won't get it, although they do provide hot water at the shelter, but i think that was because they got sick of independant walkers asking them for it... but you're not allowed the hot water they serve up at their own shelters... or allowed in their own locked shelters... ultimate hikes want to setup on the Kepler as well, thats the only fiordland great walk that doesnt have guided huts on it. tramping was always an egalitarian exercise, but in those situations you're reminded of the economic divisions of society.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby potato » Wed 19 Dec, 2018 8:17 am

Wayno, I've had similar experiences with guided walkers in NZ and in Tas... I'm not a fan. I fundamental problem with the commercialisation of national parks, so the attitude of the 1st class walkers really gets to me.

I do see however the rising pressure of mountain bikers becoming a real issue in remote areas. Cyclists have cash and there are a lot of them and we see the national parks around Sydney with purpose built trails. People think now is it ok to ride anywhere. So I suspect in time we will see more pressure here in Aus, particularly in KNP and in Tas where everything is on sale. You might even see cyclists on the Kepler.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Wed 19 Dec, 2018 8:42 am

i'm used to coming across people who have good etiquette in the mountains... we were brought up to adhere to it or else.... but now you've got novices who just dont think about others, a lot of guided walkers and their guides in that category.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby mikethepike » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 11:17 am

wayno wrote: theirs been issues with people stealth camping on the great walks to avoid all fees. now the fees have been hiked, especially for foreigners going up to $140 a night on the fiordland great walks.. stealth camping may become a bigger issue.... people want to see the track and dont want to or struggle to spend the money... everyone wants to go on the great walks... its on their bucket list....

The hut fees are outrageous imo and the camp fees at $40/pp per night for overseas walkers ditto. We Aussies are not really overseas are we? And where's the brotherly/sisterly love shown to neighbours living just across the ditch? It's no surprise that there is a rise in stealth camping. I think I'll be joining them in March unless I put the trip off till May when the hut costs are low.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby mikethepike » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 11:51 am

wayno wrote: theirs been issues with people stealth camping on the great walks to avoid all fees. now the fees have been hiked, especially for foreigners going up to $140 a night on the fiordland great walks.. stealth camping may become a bigger issue.... people want to see the track and dont want to or struggle to spend the money... everyone wants to go on the great walks... its on their bucket list....

The hut fees are outrageous imo and the camp fees at $40/pp per night for overseas walkers ditto. We Aussies are not really overseas are we? And where's the brotherly/sisterly love shown to neighbours living just across the ditch? It's no surprise that there is a rise in stealth camping. I think I'll be joining them in March unless I put the trip off till May when the hut costs are low.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 2:15 pm

thats the real cost of running a great walk, theres plenty of other places you can walk where you dont have to pay those fees and can camp for free, or go in the off season when they downgrade th esrvice and its a lot cheaper. they spend $100,000 flying sewerage out alone, plus flying the gas and coal in... the tracks erode very fast without a lot of maintenance, i did the track after one storm and it was like a steeplechase climbing over dozens of fallen trees... someone has to clear all that so the track remains walkable... you have a choice... people act like its the only choice, great walks are a tiny fracton of tens of thousands of kilometres of walking tracks and 900 huts... NZers have been subsidising the great walks with their taxes for decades...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 3:42 pm

wayno wrote:thats the real cost of running a great walk, theres plenty of other places you can walk where you dont have to pay those fees and can camp for free, or go in the off season when they downgrade th esrvice and its a lot cheaper. they spend $100,000 flying sewerage out alone, plus flying the gas and coal in... the tracks erode very fast without a lot of maintenance, i did the track after one storm and it was like a steeplechase climbing over dozens of fallen trees... someone has to clear all that so the track remains walkable... you have a choice... people act like its the only choice, great walks are a tiny fracton of tens of thousands of kilometres of walking tracks and 900 huts... NZers have been subsidising the great walks with their taxes for decades...

You had me right up to the last line. We all pay taxes and all subsidise recreational (and other) systems/infrastructure that are used by visitors. FWIW I have no issue with the cost of great walks but every time I go to NZ I hear the "we're subsidising your travel" argument - it's true, but it's true everywhere and I'm not sure why NZ is so different. We're a global community.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 4:01 pm

nz has a small population, there was a problem that the majority of people on the most popular great walks were foreigners, they had kids for free, the biggest problem was australian youth groups in particular booking out a lot of bunks, and other countries too, to a lesser extent, its very hard to get a space in summer on the fiordland great walks , and nzers were struggling to get on, because there was no cost involved for aussie kids the groups didnt care if they did a no show which quite a few of them did...
the govt decided to spike the fee for foreigners and include kids in the fees to stop what was happening... problem is theres still no shortage of people willing to pay those prices, less than before allowing more nzers on, but still a lot of them and they sell out fast in the holidays in fiordland.. you dont like the price? go and do the inca trail and see how you like those prices or the three capes... thats the going rate, the great walks were a bargain by comparison, now they have adjusted the prices to match similar popular walks internationally... its not like theres any shortage of other options in nz, and as i said you can go in the off season for a fraction of the price...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 9:37 pm

Mate I said I have no issue with the price. Just the mentality.

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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby mikethepike » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 10:24 pm

OK, on re-considering the matter, it's $120 to do the Kepler (3 tent nights @ $40/night) and I have no problem with that. I've seen first hand the work that goes in to track maintenance and improvement let alone the other costs mentioned by wayno.
wayno wrote:the govt decided to spike the fee for foreigners
Maybe it's just semantics but I don't tend to think of myself as a foreigner when I'm in NZ (well OK I suppose I am) in the same way that I don't think of the 10% of the NZ population that lives in Australia as foreigners.
wayno wrote:NZers have been subsidizing the great walks with their taxes for decades...
Possibly so but overall, all visitors to the country must surely be adding to its overall economy. On the other hand though I can appreciate that NZers might feel a bit invaded by Australians during peak summer and winter seasons.
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Wed 04 Sep, 2019 3:39 am

blame the aussie youth groups that were doing no shows, so the govt shut the aussies out as well as the rest... aussies get welfare over here if they live here and nzers get none in aus almost no matter how long they've been paying taxes...
the TA gets a bad rap from foreigners, they come over expecting the same high standard of track cutting they get overseas. NZ isnt a well resourced country compared to a lot of western nations , low population, rugged landscape. lower income than AUS, terrible weather... it all makes it harder to maintain decent tracks.
NZ is NZ, its not Aus, its not america or europe. it's different here, its so easy to whinge about someone elses country.
theres plenty of other cheap options theres no shortage of tree roots to step over, deep mud to wade through, tracks to get lost on. thats been the mainstay of my tramping. thats pretty normal in NZ but to foreigners its pretty foreign for them. you want scenery the dusky track is just as scenic as the great walks, enjoy the endless mud, steep slippery climbs, tree roots and a track that is impassable in the regular heavy rain that often comes by the hundreds of mm.
then you get a nicely maniacured trail and complain because you have to pay for the price it costs to maintain it... theres plenty of NZer s including south islanders cant even afford to get to fiordland and pay for the tracks. even at the subsidised rate. be thankful you have the money to choose to go on the track...

bushwalking is different the world over, embrace the difference... youre in New Zealand, you're not at home...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Wed 04 Sep, 2019 7:59 am

this slip on the kepler track wiped out 2km of the track, it was a mess of tree trunks and debris piled up...
a person can build 7m of track a day....
they had to helicopter a digger 20km in the end to work on the track..
so all that takes $$$$$ without that money you'd be covering a few hundred metres an hour in an obstacle course...
with so much rain, the bush grows fast, obliterating tracks if they arent repeatedly cleared...
feel free to come over and volunteer some time on track work to help out...

the lake on the dart track was formed a few years ago by a slip...
it wiped out several kilometres of track which took months to re route around the lake
welcome to track maintenance in NZ...
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Re: Kepler Track report

Postby wayno » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 3:55 am

the fees are also a contribution to conservation on DOC land
once apon a time there were hardly any birds to be heard let alone seen on the Routeburn,
but for the voluntary efforts on the hollyford side and a hell of a lot of time and effort, that would still be the case, now there's more money available to save the birds from entirely introduced predators they have little evolutionary defense against. there are a hell of a lot more birds around today than there was ten years ago because of the increased funds... think about what it takes for those birds to be saved from what eventually would be extinction... all you have to do when you go to a great walk is walk and enjoy the scenery and wildlife... other people are putting in a hell of a lot of hard work and sweat to make it easy for others... if you really care you won't have problems parting with more money, you spend hundreds of dollars to get to NZ, you may spend hundreds or thousands more travelling around NZ. there's a mentality that bush walking shouldn't cost anything, a lot of the time no, but sometimes yes, you do get what you pay for even though you think you don't, have a good think about what goes on behind the scenes to bring you a walk of such a high quality, when you're old and you cant handle the rough tracks anymore you'll be thankful for benched trails that aren't obstacle courses which gentler gradients, high quality serviced huts..
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