The Routeburn Track is another hiking gem of Aotearoa. If you don’t have the time for the three-day trek or simply enjoy day walks, the track offers a great hike to the Routeburn Falls Hut. On this one day hike you will experience the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Routeburn river, gorges, chasms, waterfalls, beech forest and great views on the climb up to the falls hut. The Routeburn Track is really one of New Zealand’s most gorgeous.
The track encompasses both the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. Access to this walk is from Queenstown or Glenorchy. The road end has a large carpark with toilet facilities.
From the carpark to Routeburn Flats Hut: 6.5 km, 2 – 2.5 hours.
The tracks start from the carpark shelter and head across a footbridge where the track winds gently through red beech forest, crossing two more footbridges over side streams. The valley narrows and the track climbs gently beside a gorge with the Routeburn river flowing below. At the top of the gorge, another footbridge takes you across the river and a further 30 minutes of walking brings you to the Routeburn Flats Hut, which is on the edge of open river flats.If you were after a shorter walk this would be the perfect alternative (4-5 hours return).
Routeburn Flats to Routeburn Falls Hut 2.3 km, 1 – 1.5 hours
From the flats the track climbs steadily through more beech forest, crossing two footbridges with great views of the valley as you go. The climbs about 300 metres with Emily creek bridge considered the halfway point. The Routeburn Falls Hut lies on the edge of the bush line, with stunning views over the valley below and the surrounding mountains. The falls, a series of cascades, are a few minutes’ walk above the hut.
Return to the carpark on the same track, total walking time 6-8 hours for this hike.
The drive from Queenstown to the start of the Routeburn Track is approximately 70 kilometres, travel time is around 1.5 hours.
Take the Glenorchy-Queenstown road into Glenorchy. From Glenorchy its about 40 minutes, 25 kilometres. Turn right into Mull Street, which continues onto the Glenorchy-Paradise Road. Turn left onto Priory Road, which continues onto Glenorchy-Routeburn Road, then turn right after the bridge onto Routeburn Road, this is a gravel road, follow it until you reach the car park and toilet facilities. Signs are clearly visible and it is easy to find. If you’re a visual person like myself check out google maps for the route from Glenorchy to the Routeburn Track Shelter.
If your backpacking, or don’t have your own transport, here are some other transport options for accessing the South Island’s Routeburn Track.
What to take
This is an easy bush walk to the Routeburn Flats Hut, with a steady climb to the Falls Hut, however a good level of fitness is required. As mentioned in the route description it may take up to 8 hours return depending on fitness levels. Take plenty of food and water; there are plenty of side streams plus the river where you can refill your drink bottles. If the weather turns nasty you need to have the right gear to keep dry and warm, this is what I recommend you take:
- Food and water
- Waterproof raincoat
- Sturdy footwear
- Warm clothing: thermals and fleece
- Hat and gloves
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- First Aid Kit
New Zealand’s Routeburn Track can be tough, so for important information on what to bring check-out my blog on what to take hiking.
There is a large range of accommodation options in Queenstown, from backpacker hostels, motels and hotels. Self-contained apartments to luxury private retreats are also available. I use booking.com and Trivago for all my accommodation needs and have found them to be very good, they offer great deals and rates on all accommodation types.