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New Zealand (Day 7): Hiking Kepler Track and Traveling to Tasman Bay

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Summary: The final leg of the Kepler Track is located in Te Anau, South Island New Zealand. We stopped here for an easy 8-mile out-and-back hike through green woods, before driving back to Queenstown to catch our next flight. Arriving in the evening, we grabbed our rental car, groceries, and drove the 50 minutes to Tasman Bay. This would be our launching point to visit Abel Tasman National Park which is located on the north-side of the South Island. This beach community enjoys warm weather and a ton of agriculture thanks to area's "banana belt" climate.

Hiking in South Island. What we found so impressive about New Zealand was their well-kept, well-marked hiking trail system. Fiordland National Park is the largest of New Zealand's 13 national parks and is so very easy to navigate. The most popular trails have parking, clean bathrooms, and very clean and well-maintained trails. We only did day hikes but with multi-day treks, be sure to book your hut or campsite in advance.

Getting to Kepler Track. The Rainbow Reach trail head for Kepler Track is just 12 kilometers from Te Anau. Unlike other point-to-point hikes in Fiordland National Park, Kepler is a circular route. As we had a plane to catch, we picked the easier route from Rainbow Reach to Moturau Hut and back.

Lush Greenery. From the car park, the first to do is to walk across the swing bridge and into the lush green woods. Unlike some other more barren hikes in the South Island, this portion of the Kepler Track had beautiful huge ferns and a dense, wet forest.

Wetlands. About half-way to the Hut, we enjoyed two view points: (1) a river, and (2) a wetland.

Turnaround Point. For this day hike, the turnaround point was the Moturau Hut. For a multi-day hike, this would be your first or last stop, depending on which way you hike the Kepler Track.

Travel Day. This hike ended up fitting well with our itinerary, which had a scheduled location change. Our flight to Nelson was not until later in the afternoon so we filled our time with a beautiful trek before makin the 2-hour drive back to Queenstown. TIP: If we had to do this again, though, we would have shifted everything a little earlier: earlier hike, earlier flight, and earlier arrival in Nelson.


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