Routeburn Day Walk: Ancient Forests & Mountain Vistas

We started our 2017 with a visit to Queenstown to see family and unwind for a few days away from the usual day-to-day grind. While we were there, we managed to squeeze in a couple of microadventures, including one that would see us traverse part of the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

Routeburn Track Humboldt Mountains

New Zealand is known around the world for it's epic landscapes and exceptional natural beauty. One of the best ways to see the country is on foot, with a number of well maintained great walks encompassing some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country.

The Routeburn Track is one of these great walks, stretching 32km across Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The end-to-end walk usually takes three days, passing through deep, forested valleys and crossing exposed mountain passes in New Zealand's wild south. 

Routeburn Track Waterfall

For people like us with less time at hand (or looking for something a little less adventurous), there is a single day option to experience this wonderful area, so we jumped at the opportunity to explore!

We left Queenstown early for the one hour drive past Glenorchy to the Routeburn Shelter which marks the start of the trail. From here, it's a 14km return walk to Routeburn Flats Hut. 

Routeburn Forest

We set out on the walk and were immediately surrounded by enchanted beech forests as the trail meandered along the turquoise Routeburn River.  The valley is quite sheltered so there was minimal wind and all we could hear was overwhelmingly beautiful birdsong, interrupted only by the occasional thundering waterfall.

Routeburn River

Along its path the trail crosses a number of suspension bridges, which open up a whole different perspective of the valley as we emerged from the forest.  The views of the river and surrounding mountains were truly magical.

Routeburn Forest
Routeburn Flats Hut

After almost two hours of walking at a relaxing pace, the landscape opened up as we approached Routeburn Flats Hut. The hut is set at the edge of the beech forest below some impressive mountains and made for a beautiful lunch spot.

Routeburn Flats

We weren't quite ready to turn around and go home though - we decided to walk a further 20 minutes along the trail to a place called The Slip, where a major landslide occurred in 1994.

The track became much steeper as we climbed from the flats but this was entirely worth it, as the view of the Humboldt Mountains we were treated to on arrival was out-of-this world. We spent quite a bit of time here taking in the scenery before setting off on our journey home.

Routeburn Track
Humboldt Mountains Routeburn Track

Need to Know

Time: 4-5 Hours
Distance: 14km
Difficulty: Easy
Tip: Don't just stop at Routeburn Flats - walk the extra 20 minutes uphill for beautiful views!