WALKING PLACES TOGETHER
The Kelper Track is an awesome side trip off the Te Araroa Trail. It fits in well because you will likely be going into the city of Te Anau to resupply and that is where the Kepler Track starts. If you are walking the trail Northbound, Te Anau will probably be your first hitch into a town on the Te Araroa Trail. If you are walking Southbound, then when you arrive in Te Anau you are only a short distance from the end, relative to the distance you've already covered.
About the Route.
The Kelper Track is a 60 kilometer loop and is considered one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The walk offers some spectacular views over Fiordland National Park. On our walk of the Te Araroa this side trip offered some of the best views.
Things to Consider.
When planning on doing the Kelper Track, consider that since its a Great Walk and you will need to reserve a campsite or hut in advance. Check the DOC reservation website soon! The New Zealand Great Walks are so popular, it seems all of the reservations get filled very quickly. This side trip required some pre-planning. The year that we walked the TA (2019), the Department of Conservation was trying out a new system where if you were not a kiwi you were charged a different rate (much more) than if you had New Zealand citizenship. These campsites and huts are notoriously expensive, especially because the Kepler Track is very popular. (Side note, we budgeted for just one such experience and opted for this over Hobbiton... one day we'll have to go back and find out if we made the right choice!) You will also probably see a good amount of people walking the Kepler Track, so don’t be surprised by crowds.
How We Did it.
We decided to do the Kepler Track in two days. After debating the cost, we finally went ahead and reserved two spots at the Luxmore Hut. We were lucky enough to check the DOC website about 3-4 days before we wanted to go and there happened to be a few cancellations for the dates we wanted. We had a short first day of walking to Luxmore Hut, and then we had a longer second day of walking all the way around to the Rainbow Beach Road parking lot. We skipped the last few kilometers that looped us back around to the start, and instead caught a ride back to Te Anau from Rainbow Beach.