Past Meetup

Hiking New Zealand Routeburn, Greenstone/Caples, Lake Mavora

Hosted by Sydney Explorers

Public group

This Meetup is past

5 people went

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What we'll do

I've just returned from a fantastic week of walking in New Zealand and want to go back for more. This walk which will finish on the Easter 2018 weekend, and will be a hut based walk subject to availability. This walk will combine three separate and varied 2-4 day hikes into one 8 day hike of approximately 130km. We will start with the Routeburn Great Walk, following it with the Greenstone/Caples Valleys walk and finish with a Lake walk along Lake Mavora.

I have now booked the Routeburn Track - anyone who wants to join now will have to book the Routeburn huts themselves as I am not allowed to make more than 1 booking. Cost will be adjusted to reflect it doesn't include the Routeburn. You will need to email me for details of huts and dates on the Routeburn.

Numbers are limited to 6 due to hut capacities on the last couple of nights of the walk. If anyone is happy to carry a tent and camp those nights with limited hut availability (should only be 2-3 nights) let me know and I will increase numbers. Price will be the same as back country camping is the same cost as back country hut passes.

As this is an international trip you should consider whether or not travel insurance is appropriate to cover you in the event of injuries or illness requiring medical treatment.

Food will need to be carried for the full walk.

Important note: "Sydney Explorers, its organisers and leaders accept no liability during this meetup event. As this event may include hiking in remote areas, leaders will try to ensure the safety and well being of members at all times however, accidents may happen. Please take responsibility for your own safety and your belongings. "

By RSVP to this meetup you agree with and are bound by the terms and conditions of Sydney Explorers please click here for more information (


This walk has a series of ups and downs so will require a good level of fitness. Most of the walk is on formed tracks although parts of the Lake Mavora track are not well defined. The Routeburn and Greenstone/Caples tracks are rated as Easy Tramping (which probably means easy-medium difficulty) tracks by NZ Doc, and Lake Mavora as Advanced Tramping (apparently mainly due to the track not being as well defined - would rate as medium-hard difficulty). It is 8 days of walking averaging 15-18km per day, so whilst it is easy-medium for an experienced multi day hiker, it will be hard for an inexperienced multi-day hiker.

Routeburn Track

This is the ultimate alpine adventure, weaving through meadows, reflective tarns and alpine gardens. You'll be rewarded with spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys. Wind through the Routeburn gorge along the crystal-clear Route Burn (river).

Follow the cascade of Routeburn Falls.

Take in spectacular views of the Hollyford valley and Darren Mountains.

Walk right past Earland Falls (174 m).

More information on the Routeburn track is available at

Greenstone/Caples Valleys

The Caples and Greenstone tracks start from the car park at the end of Greenstone Road, 86 km from Queenstown, via Glenorchy. Alternatively, they can be started from Howden Hut on the Routeburn Track.

The Caples and Greenstone Valleys are linked by McKellar Saddle, a sub-alpine pass, to make a moderate 4- day round trip. It is a moderately demanding tramp with some days averaging 6-7 hours of walking. A reasonable degree of fitness is required.

The Greenstone Valley is a wide, open valley with tussock flats and beech forest. In comparison, the Caples Valley is a narrower valley filled with forest interspersed with grassy clearings. Either of these tracks can be linked with the Routeburn Track (, or they can be walked as a one way track starting or finishing either at the Divide or the Greenstone Shelter.

The superb diversity of natural features in this area is recognised internationally with the establishment of the Te Wāhipounamu-South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

More information on the Greenstone/Caples track is available at

Lake Mavora

This is a 50 km, four day tramping trip, linking the Mavora Lakes Camping Area with the Greenstone Track. It passes through open valley tussock land and beech forested hill country.

More information on the Lake Mavora track can be found at

Brief Itinerary

Saturday, 24 March 2018 - arrive Queenstown, stock up on supplies;

Sunday, 25 March 2018 - transfer Queenstown to start of Routeburn Track.

Sunday, 25 March - Sunday, 1 April - 3 days walking Routeburn Track, 2 days Greenstone/Caples Track, 3 days, Lake Mavora Track.

Sunday, 1 April 2018 - Finish Lake Mavora Track walk, transfer to Queenstown

Monday, 2 April 2018 - Return home

Detailed Walking Itinerary (Note times are as per NZ Department of Conservation brochures)

Routeburn Track

Day 1 - Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut

3 hours – 4 hours, 8.8km

The track begins at Routeburn Shelter, gently winding alongside the crystal-clear Route Burn (river). After passing Sugarloaf Stream, you’ll climb to Bridal Veil Waterfall and continue above the gorge. A swing bridge leads to open grassed flats, and the Routeburn Flats Hut and Campsite. The track climbs steadily through stunning beech forest, providing views of the Humboldt Mountains. End the day at Routeburn Falls Hut, on the edge of the bushline and close to the impressive Routeburn Falls cascade.

Day 2 - Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut

4 hours 30 minutes – 6 hours, 11.3km On day 2, you’ll climb steadily up the valley, through wetlands and tussock-covered flats, before sidling along the bluffs above Lake Harris to reach the highest point on the track at Harris Saddle/Tarahaka Whakatipu (1,255 metres). The track then descends and traverses along the exposed Hollyford Face, with expansive views over the Darran Mountains. This section of the track is well-known for its impressive array of alpine plants. A steady descent leads to Lake Mackenzie Hut, set beside the enchanting Lake Mackenzie.

Day 3: Lake Mackenzie Hut to Lake Howden Hut

4 hours – 5 hours 30 minutes, 12km

Leaving Lake Mackenzie Hut the track crosses a small flat before climbing to the bushline. A gradual descent then leads past the ‘Orchard’, an open grassy area dotted with ribbonwood trees, to the impressive Earland Falls (174 metres). The track continues its descent through beech forest to Lake Howden Hut and on to The Divide. A popular side trip (1 hr 30 min) to Key Summit climbs to an alpine wetland with panoramic views over Fiordland mountains and alpine lakes.

Greenstone/Caples Track

(each day is described in reverse to our walking direction)

Day 4: Lake Howden Hut to Mid Caples Hut 6–7 hr, 21 km.

Travel up the valley through bush and grassy clearings is easy—beware however of side streams on this section after heavy rain. About two hours from Mid Caples Hut, after entering the beech forest at the end of Top Flat, the recently-upgraded track passes junctions with Steele Creek and Fraser/Kay Tracks before sidling steadily up towards the bush edge. The track across McKellar Saddle (945 m) gives great views and has been boardwalked to protect the fragile subalpine vegetation. West of the saddle, the track again enters the bush and zigzags downwards for one hour to the open valley floor where a track junction is reached upstream from Lake McKellar.

Day 5: Mid Caples Hut to Greenstone Hut, 6-7 hours, 21 km (note the description below is in the opposite direction to the direction we will be taking)

To continue down the valley to the Greenstone car park, return to the junction via the gorge bridge. On the Greenstone Track the valley narrows sharply as the river enters a long gorge section. About halfway down the gorge is Slip Flat, a large open area. If the creek across the flat is in flood, there’s an emergency bridge upstream. Below Slip Flat may be avalanche prone in winter. Where the track re-enters the bush it follows the Greenstone to its junction with the Caples. Parts of the track cross private land and stock may be present. At the confluence of the two rivers take the swing bridge that leads to the Caples’ left bank, and join the Caples Track.

Follow the Greenstone/Caples Track from the car park. After 2–3 minutes, a stock bridge gives access to the Lake Rere Track. Don’t cross the bridge but keep to the true left—the river’s left bank, looking downstream. The track continues past the confluence of the Caples and Greenstone rivers. Another swing bridge provides access to the Greenstone Track. The Caples Track continues on the true left of the Caples River. Along the valley floor it mainly follows the bush edge, but crosses the occasional grassy clearing. Just before the 24-bunk Mid Caples Hut, the track crosses a spectacular gorge.

Lake Mavora Track

(each day is described in reverse to our walking direction)

Day 6 - Greenstone Hut to Taipo Hut, Time: 4 - 5 hr, Distance: 10 km

The track follows the toe of the hill on the western side of the Pondburn Valley. Watch carefully opposite the middle of the top pond, as the track veers up a terrace into a forest, and continues to the saddle of the Passburn Valley (728 metres). The track drops steeply (marked by warratahs) to the stream (crossing on boulders), climbing and sidling around to the Greenstone Hut. The hut is sited in a bush clearing above the confluence of the Greenstone and Sly Burn, under the rocky pinnacles of Tooth Peaks.

Day 7 - Taipo Hut to Carey Hut, Time: 5-6 hour, Distance: 18km

From Careys Hut the walkway climbs above the hut, then branches in two. The left branch is a very rough 4WD track, crossing the confluence of the Mararoa River and the Windon Burn. This branch of the track then continues for three hours to the Forks Hut. The right branch continues on the walkway to Boundary Hut.

From the hut cross the swingbridge and follow marker posts on the true right of the Mararoa River. The track sidles up along the toe of the hill and the true right of the valley and continues onto Taipo Hut. Access to the hut on the north side of the river is by swingbridge.

Day 8 - Carey Hut to North Mavora Lake, Time: 2 hr, Distance: 10 km

From the Mavora camping area follow the four wheel drive track around the lake edge to the head of North Mavora Lake and Careys Hut (1 hour 30 minutes - 2 hours).


In Queenstown we will be staying at Reavers Lodge which is a large ski/hiking lodge or in apartments. For the duration of the walk we will be staying in huts n the walking track. The Greenstone/Caples huts and Lake Movra Huts are not bookable, therefore we may need to sleep on the floor if the beds are already full. Bedding in New Zealand huts generally consists of benches with up to 7 or 8 mattresses side by side.

The huts do not have cooking facilities so camping stoves will be required.

Cost $[masked] depending on numbers.

Price includes: 1 night in Queenstown before the walk, one night in Queenstown after the walk, Routeburn Hut Fees, backcountry hut/camping passes for the Greenstone/Caples Track and Lake Mavora Track, transfers to and from Queenstown.

Price excludes: Flights to and from New Zealand, transport to & from airport on arrival and departure, food, gear, gas etc.

No refunds permitted once paid and booked. Bookings for the Routeburn Track are not transferable, therefore finding a member to replace you will be dependent on NZ DOC allowing me to cancel and rebook another person, and would be subject to NZ DOC cancellation fees. It is suggested you consider travel insurance.

By RSVP to this meetup you agree to and are bound by terms and conditions of Sydney Explorers which can be found under the pages tab or here. (

What to take

Personal equipment

Backpack (40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking)

Waterproof/plastic pack liner

Sleeping bag (3–4 season)

First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blisterkit, personal medication e.g. antihistamine for allergy to wasp stings)

Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, high energy snack food)

Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year (e.g. map, compass)

Drink bottle (1-2 litre capacity)

Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup, pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel)

Matches or lighter in waterproof container


Torch/flashlight and spare batteries

Rubbish bag

Tickets and ID

Portable stove and fuel

Toilet paper

Cost and Payment

Cost wil be $[masked] depending on numbers (minimum three people including me required).

No refunds offered once paid, however you can find a replacement via the comments.

Payment of deposit of $400 is due within 5 days of RSVP to:

Account Name: Andrew Shead

Account BSB:[masked]

Account Number:[masked]

Reference your Meetup profile name.

The balance (if any) to be payable on 31 October 2017.

In order for this trip to confirm I need a minimum of 3 but is limited to maximum 6 due to hut capacities on the last couple of nights of the walk. If anyone is happy to carry a tent and camp those nights with limited hut availability (should only be 2-3 nights) let me know and I will increase numbers. Price will be the same as back country camping is the same cost as back country hut passes. Preference will be given to attendees with previous experience on Sydney Explorers multi-day hikes.

Please also return the signed registration containing your information Located here (