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, you’ll still have the option to do a big Kepler Track Day Walk, including a summit of Mount Luxmore.
Starting from Te Anau, if you’re up for a long but rewarding single-day hike in the incredible Fjordland National Park, then the hike up to the Luxmore Hut and a quick summit of Mount Luxmore is a great option.
I’ll have to stress that this hike is fairly long, with more than 1200 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.
Best Kepler Track One Day Hike - Control Gates to Mount Luxmore Summit Return
- Hike Length/Duration: 37 km return, 8-10 hours
- Elevation: 1250 m elevation gain, Mount Luxmore summit: 1470M AMSL
- Difficulty: Fairly difficult; long with plenty of elevation gain
Completing this 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're still on the fence, you can read the full guide to completing the Kepler on a budget in 3 days.
Note: this Kepler Track day hike is long and not officially recommended by the DOC to complete in 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.
RELATED: GREAT WALKS: ROUTEBURN TRACK DAY HIKE
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.
The track begins by following the edge of the beautiful Lake Te Anau, which is the largest body of freshwater in Australasia.
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.
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.
After taking in the views, prepare your knees to descend the more than 1200M back down to the control gates!
SOMETHING SHORTER? CONSIDER THE LAKE HAUROKO VIEWPOINT HIKE
Kepler Track Day Walk and Luxmore Summit GPX Map
Here is a GPX file of this day hike which I recorded using my Garmin watch. If you'd like to download the track, you can do so by clicking the link below.
GPX File: Download
My Strava: Visit
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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!
Related:Epic Things to do at Arthur's Pass
Optional: Stay or Freedom Camp at the Luxmore Hut
You can turn this Kepler Track day hike into an overnight trip by either staying at the Luxmore Hut or freedom camping nearby.
The cost to stay in the hut is $130 for visitors and $65 for kiwis. It's best to book in advance since this hut is the most popular on the Kepler track.
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. Looking for a good starting point for more hikes? Don't miss: 31 Best Hikes in the South Island New Zealand.