Te Anau – Kepler track day hike

Te Anau – Kepler track day hike

Kepler Track Day hike NZThere are quite a few things to do near Te Anau. We booked our amazing visit to the Te Anau Glowworm caves in advance. But we arrived so early, that we had a couple of hours to do something else before heading over to meet the glowworms. We’re always up for stretching our legs, so we decided to walk on a short  Kepler Track day hike.  We made a plan to hike in the trees on the way to Rainbow Reach to give us a small taster of the walk. We left our hire care at the Kepler Track car park, and went as far as we could in 45-50 minutes. That way, we had enough time to get back to Te Anau with plenty of time to meet the Glowworms.

So, this post isn’t about a long walk, it’s just a teeny taster of a longer, epic hike. For us it was a good way to get a feel for the area, and to stretch our legs after the drive from Wanaka.

Getting to the Kepler Track Car park:

Our walk started at this unassuming car park a few kilometers south of Te Anau, that has pretty amazing views of out to the lake. Our hire-car came with a satnav, so we found it by searching “Kepler track car park.” But if you don’t have a satnav or a phone, you can still find it!!  If you start at the Te Anau Visitor centre on Lakefront Drive, follow the highway that leads to Manapouri for a couple of kilometers, and then turn right onto a golf course road for another couple of kilometers. The carpark is on the right and has an obvious sign post, so you won’t miss it!

Even if you don’t fancy a walk, there are pretty views of Dock Bay and Lake Te Anau from the car park!

The Kepler Track:

The Kepler Track is a 60km loop that takes most people 3-4 days to wander around. As it is one of the Great Walks, the paths are pretty substantial and easy to follow. If you arrive in the summer, then it isn’t possible to do the whole walk unless you have managed to book space in the huts in advance. BUT even if you can’t manage to whole walk, there are several possibilities for day hikes on the Kepler Track. I liked the sound of walking up to Luxmore Hut (because I like hiking up mountains and because I have Kiwi friends who’s family name is Luxmore!) I also really liked the sound of the walk from Kepler Track carpark to Dock Bay and Brod Bay. But, alas, we didn’t quite have enough time to manage either of those. So, we opted to walk towards Rainbow Reach.

Hiking to Rainbow Reach

Our day hike followed a path that wound its way through a beech forest on the banks of the Waiau River. It looked like the walk could take us the whole way to Lake Manapouri. Even the teeny walk we managed was a lovely introduction to the area. Some stretches of the walk went through the trees, but we had constant glimpses of the river shining through the foliage.

I love the way this river was so calm and good at reflecting the forest and skies.

Waiau River – the rainbow river

When you see the river from low down, it has a turquoise-green colour. But then as soon as you climb up slightly, this is replaced by reflections of the blue sky and clouds, so it’s easy to forget the extraordinary water colour. It had yet another colour on our return journey when we walking into the sun; Then it started to look a sort of brown-green. This is the kind of river that would be difficult to describe if a child asked you what colour you should paint it!!

The paths goes through a beech forest. These are the kind of trees that let plenty of light in during the summer. So even walking in the shade, we were able to enjoy beautiful dappled light.

This was the view just before we decided we should turn back. I think the mountain in the background is Mount Luxmore. We’ll have to come back to complete this whole walk, or at least make it up there!

Kepler Track Birdies – Tui

This walk showed me that I am a terrible wildlife photographer! Whenever a cute bird caught my eye, it’d take me so long to get my good lens ready, that the bird would be gone by the time I was ready to take a photo! We saw one beautiful bird with a white cravat-like feather on its chin! It flew off before I could snap a picture. I was so sad that I kept my large lens out for aaages in my hand, while I listened out for him.

The second time we saw him I spent aaaages attempting to take his photo. In the end I managed to snap several, but I like this one best. You can see his white cravat and his slightly puffed out feathers. Apparently this is a Tui.  It seems black at first, but if you look carefully his feathers are iridescent with a sort of peacock green-y colour. What do you think his name should be?

Quiet, pleasant forests:

Even thought this is one of the Great Walks, it didn’t seem busy at all as a day walk! We hardly saw any other people despite the lovely weather! If you fancy a pleasant and quiet day walk, this is a good option.

I spent such a long time trying to take photos of the Tui above that we had to rush a little on our return journey. Still, I loved walking through the forest. There were some amazing tree roots. Some were helping to hold up the river bank, and some creating mini tree-caves for Kiwi critters. This would be a really good place to explore with children. The path is easy (and easy to follow,) but there is plenty to see.

Rainbow Reach

We didn’t actually make is as far as rainbow reach, so I am not very sure what is there! We did see quite a few people fishing, so maybe it is something to do with rainbow trout? I think rainbow reach is some kind of jetty or a bridge that helps people reach the rainbow trouts! Anyway, as we didn’t make it that far, I’ll leave you with a last couple of photos looking out over the river and forest. It wasn’t quite a rainbow, but I loved all the green and blue hues.

We are both speedy walkers so we made it back to Te Anau with plenty of time to spare. I thought the path towards Rainbow reach was a lovely day walk. Hopefully we can return to do more of the Kepler Track one day!

I’d like to finish this post with a photo of a giant Takahe that we saw in Te Anau. These pretty blue birds were thought to be extinct. Until they found some in the Mountains to the West of Te Anau in 1948! Now there is lots of conservation work to help protect them. Pretty cool eh!? Hopefully we can meet a real one next time we visit New Zealand!?

So, if you find yourself in Te Anau, but you don’t have time to hike along the whole Kepler Track, I highly recommend taking a peek at a Kepler track day hike.

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52 thoughts on “Te Anau – Kepler track day hike

  1. He’s so majestic! Pluto? Neptune? Jester? Riddle? Providence? Thero? Xenos? Mr. Cuddles? I don’t know, he needs a name as proud as he is.

    -Knurly

    1. You are so good at this!

      My husband and I have a game where we guess the name of dogs while we walk. Then, if we hear the dogs real name we decide if their human named them well (sometimes their real name is better than the one we picked, sometimes not!) I have a feeling you’d be great at that game.

      I think Neptune would really suit him. Jester is a pretty good name too though!

  2. Well if I ever travel abroad I know exactly who my travel agent is going to be. (wink) You find the most interesting places and take the most amazing photos. I almost feel like I’m right there with you.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Yaaay Thank you so much Patricia! I am so glad you like them all.

      We actually ended up doing 3 (short) hikes on this day, so I had to split it into several posts to stop it becoming an epic saga!!

    1. Lol we must have been close to it… so maybe I was right. Hopefully someone that has done the Kepler track will pop by and enlighten me. 🙂

  3. Do you think the Rainbow river was named that way because it reflects so well? Those pictures really were amazing. Not sure what else to name a Tui. With the white fluffy feathers and iridescent colors it reminds me of what an Elton John bird might be on a formal night.

    1. OMG Elton is SUCH a good name for him! It’s showy for his iridescent feathers… but it also makes me think of Mr Elton from Emma (and he is pretty sophisticated with that white cravat!) 🙂

    1. I think they’ll be coming soon! The sakura are already blooming here! Is it still quite chilly on your side of the mountains?

    1. Thanks Trudy!
      Although puffer sounds sort of cute! It’d be a good name for a baby puffin!

      He does look pretty arrogant though!

    1. I think if you go up Mount Luxmore this track would be even more impressive. I did really love the whole Fiordland though!!

  4. You always take such beautiful photos, and this post was no exception! Not only do you make yet another lovely case for finding more excuses for daytrip hikes, but you leave pictures that feel like they should be in a guidebook or on a postcard somewhere 🙂 nicely done, as always

    1. Celeste that is such a lovely comment! You have just made my morning so thank you so much!! <3

      I wasn't sure if I should share this walk as it was so short, but now I am really glad I did.

    1. It was a really relaxing place to explore, especially as the only sounds were singing birds and the swish of the river. If you’re a nature lover I think you’d adore it!!

    1. I have a feeling it might be named after rainbow trouts because I saw a few fishermen. Although the birds were pretty colourful too. 🙂

  5. A lovely post detailing a lovely hike. What level experience do you think one would need to do this hike? My mum and I are heading to NZ next year and she’s a big walker but has bad knees. Just to add, your photography is so pretty – especially the little bird pal!

    1. Thank yoooou!
      I think that bird is called Elton now. 😉

      This walk would be really good for your mum. Seriously, it was pretty, but so, so easy. There is hardly any elevation gain and the path is wide and obvious. There are quite a few other easy mini walks between Te Anau and Milford Sound. I’ll write about them in the next few weeks, but there are plenty of other easy, knee-friendly options.

      Does your mum have walking poles? If so, she might still be fine with some of the walks that have some elevation gain too!!

  6. I’m crossing my fingers (and toes, and eyes!) that I’ll be able to visit NZ in 2019 and despite the research I’ve already done I’ve not come across Kepler yet but after this write up and pretty images I’ll be adding it to my list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Oooh I am sure you will see more about it as it’s one of the great walks. 🙂

      There is the Kepler track, the Milford Track and the Routeburn all really close to each other, and all gorgeous!!

      Give me a shout if you need help planning hikes when you start booking things. We did sooo many amazing walks in Kiwiland.

  7. It sounds like a day well spent to me! I love that you refer to ‘meeting’ the glow worms. Makes me smile! Keep up the great work, happy travels x

    1. Lol thanks Taylor!

      We did get pretty close to those glowworms (I was really curious what they look like in the light, so the guide shone a torch on one to show me.) When my nose gets that close, I’m going to count it as a formal meeting! 😉

  8. Ugh New Zealand is soooo beautiful! I can’t wait to go one day! So jealous you got to see the glow worms! That’s been on my bucket list for forever!

    1. Oooh if you make it to NZ, we had some friends that went to see the glowworms on the North Island instead of the South. They got to do an adventure tour (abseiling down from the ceiling into the cave!) if you can, do that one!!

      I have a post about our glowworm tour. It was awesome, but not quite as exciting-sounding as the North Island version!!

  9. Nice! It looks so peaceful, and it’s always nice to walk by a body of water 🙂 I’ve never been to New Zealand but when I do, I’ll make sure this is on the list of places to visit!

    1. Thanks Eva! I really like wandering next to the sound of rushing water too. I’m glad you like the look of it. 🙂

    1. Me too!!

      Although I have never found *quite* so many amazing walks on holiday as I did in NZ!! It is a hiker’s (tramper’s) paradise!

  10. This is such a fun day activity! Looks beautifully refreshing too.. I absolutely the loved the part about birds. So relatable too.. i am so busy enjoying the nature during hikes that often forget to ready my camera.. but I know I have its memory etched in my brain so that works.. anyway, great blogpost.. hope I can do this someday 😍

    1. Oooh you’re really lucky Kanika! I always seem to take a zillion photos. I think that actually helps me etch memories into my brain. Somehow taking (and looking later) at photos helps my terrible memory! Otherwise I am sooo forgetful!

    1. Thanks Ketki!

      I think it must get busy in the late afternoon when most people are finishing the great hike. But in the morning (and in this direction) it was sooo quiet!

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