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The Routeburn Track traverses through Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks which are part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. It is one of New Zealand‚Äôs most popular tracks with approximately 13000 walkers completing the track each year.
The track is a moderate 30 km long tramp and the best time to walk it is during the summer months as in winter months snow and ice make it hazardous. Like all tracks in New Zealand it is best to contact the department of conservation to get track conditions.
Before Europeans arrive, Maori used to frequent this route in search of greenstone, used for weapons and tools. The first settlers at Kinloch, near the mouth of the Dart River started guided walks and In 1870 a bridle track was started to link Kinloch and Routeburn with the new Martins Bay settlement. But harsh and isolated conditions meant that the settlement failed and the track was abandoned.
Beech is the dominant forest tree, with red beech around the start of the Routeburn Valley on sunny, frost-free sites. Mountain beech occurs at higher altitudes within the Routeburn Valley. Silver beech competes best on the wetter Hollyford faces along with broadleaf and fuchsia.
There is a rich diversity of birdlife along and around the track. Riflemen, bellbirds, robins, yellow crowned parakeets, yellowheads, tomtits, fantails, kaka and wood pigeons are common bush birds. Towards evening, native bats and moreporks (small owls) may be seen and heard. Blue ducks and paradise ducks live in the valley. In the sub-alpine zone look out for rock wrens, New Zealand falcons and the mischievous mountain parrot, the Kea.
¬∑ Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut - 2 to 3 hours, 6.5km
¬∑ Routeburn Flats Huts to Routeburn Falls Hut - 1 to 1.5 hours, 2.3km
¬∑ Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut - 4 1/2 to 6 hours, 11.3km
¬∑ Lake Mackenzie Hut to Lake Howden - 3 to 4 hours, 8.6km
¬∑ Lake Howden Hut to The Divide - 1 to 1.5 hours, 3.4km
Transport - Bus companies departing daily from both Te Anau, Queenstown and Glenorchy service both ends of the track.
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