Grand Traverse

Grand Traverse Itinerary

6 days | 5 nights
66 km | 41 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Nov - Apr

Pre Track Briefing

This is held on the day prior to your walk departure date in the Ultimate Hikes Centre in Queenstown at 12.45pm. The briefing will explain the next few days of your walk, run through the packing checklist and show you the equipment you can borrow. 

Day 1 - Queenstown to Steele Creek Lodge

18km (11.3 miles)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Track Terrain: 
. Some inclines with graded track through beech forest with some rocky sections.

Your morning coach trip from Queenstown follows Lake Wakatipu, stopping briefly in Glenorchy before continuing around the lake to the mouth of the fabled Greenstone River and the start of your walk. The Greenstone track takes you through stately red beech forest.  After lunch The track comes out on to the valley floor and joins the river again.  Views of Mt Christina reward you as you head up the river flats to Steele Creek Lodge and your first night's stay on the Greenstone Track.

Day 2 - Steele Creek Lodge to Lake McKellar

12 km (7.5 miles)
Level of difficulty: 
Track Terrain: 
Beech forest and wide valleys, mainly flat.

The track this mornings starts walking through red tussock on the river flats. Ancient pines and cottonwoods cling to the sheer mountain sides, which come alive with water on rainy days. The track allows spectacular views of the Ailsa and Livingstone Ranges as you approach Lake McKellar and the lodge.

Day 3 – McKellar Lodge

Rest & exploration

This is your chance to explore the area around the lodge. There are opportunities for activity or just relax and read a book in the lodge. Take a stroll to the lake or the waterfall, or one of the guides will take you on a more energetic hike up to the lookout behind the lodge for a view down the river flats and your first glimpse of the Routeburn Track. 

Day 4 - Lake McKellar to Mackenzie Lodge

15.5 km (9.5 miles)
Level of difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Track Terrain: Some steep up hill, but mainly a steady incline with narrow sections and rocky in parts.

Today you cross the main divide via the Greenstone Saddle and meet the Routeburn Track at Lake Howden.  You have the option to do a side walk up to Key Summit. Here you can sit among the alpine plants and gaze down three valleys from which water flows to three different coasts.

Following lunch at Lake Howden the track gradually climbs through silver beech forest to Earland Falls.  You'll hear them before you see them!  Take a break here before beginning the descent into Mackenzie lodge which is steep and rocky, so take your time.  Refreshments, a hot shower, three course meal and comfortable beds are waiting at Mackenzie Lodge.                                

Day 5 - Mackenzie Lodge to Routeburn Falls Lodge

11 km (6.9 miles) 
Level of difficulty:
Track Terrain:
Uneven and steep in places, with a series of zig zags, then mostly flat, before heading downhill with some boardwalks and steps

You leave the ancient forest draped in moss and lichen and enter the world of daisies, buttercups, gentians and edelweiss. At Ocean Peak Corner, you have a full vista of the Darran Mountains across the Hollyford Valley, which slices through Fiordland to the distant Tasman Sea at Martin's Bay. After lunch at the Harris Saddle, you can ascend Conical Hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks. After walking around Lake Harris you descend into the upper basins of the Routeburn Valley, with the towering mountains above. Spend your final night at the beautifully located Routeburn Falls Lodge.

Day 6 Routeburn Falls Lodge - Queenstown

9.5 km (6 miles)
Level of difficulty: 
Track Terrain: 
Mostly wide and smooth with some rocky patches.

The track descends from the lodge to the alpine pastures of the Routeburn Flats, crossing a tree slip allowing views to the mountains beyond. At the bottom take a short detour to the DOC hut and walk out on to the flats to see the full expanse of the valley. The track widens from here and follows alongside the Routeburn River as it roars through a magnificent gorge. Gorge Flat is a great place to stop for lunch.  The last section is a gentle walk through the beech forest and across the last swingbridge to the Routeburn Shelter. A coach will take you back to Queenstown, stopping at the small town of Glenorchy on the way.

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