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Wide open valleys, good trout fishing and lots of excellent camping sites are a feature of the Greenstone Track.
I did this track in winter and am glad I did as it's apparently quite a busy track in summer. Although nowhere near as busy as the nearby Routeburn. So it would be a good alternative for those that want to do a walk in the area but don't like the streams of people that would be encountered on the Routeburn.
Access is either via Glenorchy (46km from Queenstown) or The Divide Shelter (85km from Te Anau - towards Milford Sounds). Public transport is available from both ends.
Backpacker Express - Transport to the track via Glenorchy.
Greenstone road - Mid Greenstone Hut: 11 km, 3 hrs
From the car park/picnic area it's about 800 metres to a footbridge that marks the junction of the Greenstone and Caples Tracks. Cross the footbridge and follow the track through the beech forest for another 800 metres to the next bridge. This bridge crosses to the true left of the Greenstone River.
The next 3 km's is very east travel through beech forest with the beautiful Greenstone River never far away. You will pass several deep pools that are ideal for a mid-summer dip. The track will then open up briefly into what is known as slip flat. There is a emergency bridge upstream from the creek that needs to be crossed if it's in flood.
The track then re-enters the bush and follows the valley as it makes a big turn around to the other side of the Ailsa Mountains. After 3 km the track opens up into the wide open valley and follows the grassy plains for about 3km. The track then veers away from the Greenstone River and gently climbs for about 1km to Mid Greenstone Hut (20 bunks).
Mid Greenstone Hut - McKellar Hut: 11 km, 5-6 hrs
The track enters the bush briefly and descends gently to the Greenstone River. The next 8km or so is mostly following the true left of Greenstone River through the wide open valley. After 8km the valley narrows and the track re-enters the bush and skirts around a gentle bend in the river. After 3km a swingbridge crosses to the true right of the Greenstone River and to McKellar Hut.
McKellar Hut - The Divide Car Park: 8km, 4 hrs
(unfortunately my camera died overnight so no photos from here on)
After leaving McKellar Hut the track veers away from the Greenstone River and after 800 metres comes to Lake McKellar, I was fortunate to be accompanied by a kaka at this point. The track then skirts around the side of the lake and after 2 km reaches the swampy head of the lake. After 200 metres you will come to the junction of the Caples Track. The next 1.5km the track gentle climbs and descends the Greenstone Saddle to the pretty Lake Howden. Following the side of Lake Howden for 800m the track then comes to Howden Hut (28 bunks). The last section (part of the Routeburn Track) does a complete u-turn over a 2km period around Key Summit to the car park at The Divide. There is a side track about 600m from Howden Hut that leads up to the summit, it is worth the short detour as the summit offers nice views looking down the Hollyford Valley and the surrounding area.
More Greenstone Track photos.
Sorry but due to a spammer I have had to turn of comments, will try and get them back when I figure a way to block the low life.