|Lake Te Anau.|
Yeah I know its not twenty kilometres from the start of the walk to Luxmore Hut but the kilometres figure includes a fairly lengthy afternoon ramble around the hills behind the hut, including an ascent of Mt Luxmore. Anyway I'm getting ahead of myself a bit, first off, after parking the car I had a bit of a climb ahead of me to get to the tops, almost 900 metres of climbing actually. The climb up to Luxmore Hut was surprisingly easy however and by late morning I'd broken out of the Beech Forest and was traversing the alpine grassland towards the huge hut. Once I'd reserved my bunk and had a little lunch I figured that it was time to go exploring seeing that the day was stunning.
|I've just broken out of the Beech Forest on my climb to Luxmore Hut.|
|Climbing up the Kepler towards Mt Luxmore.|
Day two on the Kepler was one out of the box, cobalt blue skies and a light breeze greeted me for what was the best part of a days ridge walking. My limited vocabulary can't do justice to today's tramp, with extensive views, and in a lot of cases 360 degree views it was another one of those days that I just try and sear into my memory. With my polariser set on nuclear and my memory card melting down I slowly made my way across to Hanging Valley Shelter. Once at Hanging Valley Shelter I stopped for a drink and a bite to eat, from here the Kepler changes direction and descends another ridge down to the Iris Burn.
|Early morning day 2, Luxmore Hut.|
Day three on the Kepler and the weather was still stunning, blue skies and sun, in fact sunburn was more of a problem than anything else, well except for maybe the sandflies. Todays walk was a forest walk, I basically followed the Iris Burn downstream until it emptied in Lake Manapouri, on the way the tramp was enlivened by crossing a large open section called the Big Slip where a massive landslide had wiped out all the large trees allowing extensive views up and down the valley. After crossing numerous tributaries of the Iris Burn I eventually saw Lake Manapouri appear through the trees and, after a short side trip I popped out on the shore of the lake on a snow white sandy beach that wouldn't of been out of place on a tropical island. From here it was a short tramp above the shore of Lake Manapouri to Moturau Hut.
|Looking back up the Iris Burn valley from The Big Slip.|
|Sunset over Lake Manapouri, it doesn't get much better!|
Once again blue skies and sun greeted me for my last day on The Kepler. Today was once again primarily a forest walk, first up around the shores of Lake Manapouri then north to Lake Te Anau along the huge Waiau River. The first objective after leaving was Amoeboid Mire, a large swampy area that The Kepler skirts around mostly, a short duck boarded side trip led out into the mire. From the lookout at the end of the side trip I was greeted with perfect reflections in the still water, with the mist slowly lifting and a duck floating on the water it was an evocative scene.
|Another day of superb forest tramping.|
|I'm hopeless at macro shots.|
I tramped 69 kilometres on The Kepler Track including side trips, the tramp is fairly easy except for two things.The first issue is the need to ascend almost 900 metres on day 1, while the track is very well graded you still have to climb it. The second is the exposed country the trail crosses for the majority of day two, I had the right gear and had perfect weather but if the weather turned this section of track could get very serious very quickly. The huts on The Kepler are huge,with running water, flushing toilets, mattresses, gas rings, and more, they are very well equipped, take very light weight sleeping bag in summer though as I found them very hot a stuffy in the admittedly unusually warm weather. You need to book a spot on The Kepler through DOC, and you need to book early!
Finally if you want to check out a lot more photos and some more waffle this is the link to my Crazy Guy Journal.
|The Lake Te Anau Control Gates have just come into view, my Kepler adventure is almost over.|