Skip to Content
Hiking the Kepler Track in One Day via Mt Luxmore Return

Hiking the Kepler Track in One Day via Mt Luxmore Return

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Here’s how to hike the most scenic parts of the Kepler Track on an out-and-back day hike from Te Anau to Mount Luxmore Summit via Luxmore Hut.

The Kepler Track is one of the most incredible of all of New Zealand’s Great Walks. However, if you don’t have the time to complete the whole thing, then the hike up to the Luxmore Hut and a quick summit of Mount Luxmore is a great option.

That said, this hike is fairly long, with more than 1,200 metres of elevation gain in front of you if you choose to hike up to the Mount Luxmore summit. The good news is that the track is not too steep and anyone with a good mindset and good hiking fitness will be able to do this in the Great Walks Season.

Hiking A Part of the Kepler Track in One Day

  • Route: Control Gates to Mount Luxmore Summit Return
  • Hike Length/Duration: 37 km return, 8-10 hours
  • Elevation: 1,250 m elevation gain, Mount Luxmore summit: 1,470 m AMSL
  • Difficulty: Fairly difficult; long with plenty of elevation gain
  • Map: My Strava | Download GPX (.gpx 6.0 mb)

No, I don't recommend hiking the whole 65 km Kepler Track in a single day. However, if you're short on time, then completing this out-and-back day hike will offer you some of the best sections of the Kepler Track.

Highlights include long sections of native beech and podocarp forest, lakeside views, long, rolling tussock plains, views of reflective alpine tarns and of course, 360-degree views of Lake Te Anau, the Te Anau township and the surrounding mountainscape from the Mount Luxmore Peak.

Tussock plains hiking near the luxmore hut on the kepler

Route Information:

This track follows the regular track for completing the Kepler Track in an anticlockwise direction. However, after reaching the Luxmore Summit, you'll instead turn around and follow the track back past the Luxmore Hut and then descend back down to the control gates.

I feel like it's important to note that the most scenic section of the Kepler Track is between the Luxmore Hut and the Iris Burn Hut. That means that if you want to take in the best views of Lake Te Anau and the spectacular surrounding alpine vistas, then you'll have to do a multi-day hike.

Note this Kepler Track day hike is long for one day. However, it certainly is possible if you are fit and leave early enough. If you're considering this outside of the Great Walks season, then I'd imagine it would be much tougher. I'd suggest speaking to the DOC staff at the Te Anau Visitor Center to talk to them about your intentions.

Tip: If you want to shorten the hike, you can instead begin walking at the Brod Bay campsite by taking a reasonably priced boat from Te Anau.

Kepler track day 1 brod bay campsite track
Kepler track lake te anau

Getting to the Kepler Track Control Gates

The start point for the Kepler Track is located at the control gates near the township of Te Anau.

There is a large car park here where you can leave your car or camper free of charge. If you don't have your own transport, I suggest trying to get public transport or hitchhike to the control gates. Otherwise, it will add roughly an hour each way if you walk from the visitor center in Te Anau.

Grayl water filter bottle

Get Clean Drinking Water on Your Hike

I take the Grayl GeoPress Purifier Bottle on every hike and use it as my go-to source for filtering water all over the world. I've even used it to drink tap water in India!

Compare how the GeoPress stacks up against the best water bottle filters on the market.

My Experience Hiking the Kepler on an Out-And-Back Day Trip

The track begins by following the edge of the beautiful Lake Te Anau, which is the largest body of freshwater in Australasia.

Kepler track day 1 brod bay campsite track

After a pleasant warm-up, the track begins the winding ascent under the beautiful limestone bluffs before finally breaking out of the bush line and into the tussock plains.

Tussock plains hiking near the luxmore hut on the kepler

From here, it's a short and flat, 45-minute walk to the Luxmore Hut. This is a good spot to rest and reconsider whether you have enough time to push on for the summit.

From the Luxmore Hut, it's an easy and gradual 1-hour ascent to the Mount Luxmore summit track. There is a signpost at the saddle indicating the way.

Since you've made most of the ascent already, the summit track is very short, approximately 15-20 minutes return back to the saddle.

Mt luxmore summit hike

After taking in the views, prepare your knees to descend the more than 1,200 m back down to the control gates!

Mt luxmore summit

Side-Trip: Luxmore Caves

If you're a fast walker, or if you think that you don't have enough time to summit Mount Luxmore from the hut, then you also have the option of visiting the Luxmore Caves.

This side trip only adds about 20-30 minutes.

This is a large cave system that cuts deep into the tussock plains surrounding the hut. There is a gentle stream that runs through the cave as well. as some tight tunnels and cavern openings. Well worth exploring!

Luxmore cave on the kepler track

Rules for Camping Near the Luxmore Hut

You can turn this Kepler Track day hike into an overnight trip by either staying at the Luxmore Hut or camping near the Luxmore Hut.

The hut is a 54-bunk Great Walk hut and it currently costs $62 for Kiwis and $102 for internationals within the Great Walks Season. It's best to book in advance since this hut is the most popular on the Kepler track.

Update: The DOC has reached out to me about irresponsible hikers trying to camp near the Luxmore Hut. Please read my updated information in the link above.

Luxmore hut, kepler track
Camping at luxmore hut
Camping spot near the luxmore hut

More New Zealand South Island Travel Guides

I hope that you found this Kepler Track day hike and Mount Luxmore summit guide helpful. If you have any updated information or questions regarding the hike, leave a comment below!

For now, why not check out some of my other free travel and hiking guides below?

Kepler track day walk
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.