Routeburn Flats

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Routeburn Flats

This golden valley is known as the Routeburn Flats. It’s the northeastern part of the Routeburn Track in New Zealand. The Routeburn is one of ten Great Walks in New Zealand. A Great Walk has been set aside by the country as a premium hiking trail. Permits are needed ahead of time to camp in a campsite or to stay in one of the huts. The huts come with beds in a communal room complete with mattresses, a cooking area often supplied with gas and running water, toilets, and a camp warden who is well-informed about the trail’s history as well as the daily weather concerns.

The Routeburn Track is an alpine trail that can be hiked (or “tramped,” a NZ term for a hike) in either direction. My wife and I started at The Divide, which is a stop along the road to the Milford Sound, and then we hiked up and over the pass and down to the Routeburn shelter. It is a 20 mile hike one way with about 3500′ of total elevation gain, but be aware that getting from one stop to the other by road is a 200 mile trip. Most people do the hike over the course of three days with two overnight stays in a hut or one of the adjacent campsites. Some of the locals do this hike in a single day. We stayed in the huts and this image was taken above the Routeburn Falls hut. It may be the most picturesque one in all of the Great Walks. It has a full deck on one side that has a similar view of the valley as pictured here. A permanent waterfall runs behind it, which gives it its name.

Our first day on the Routeburn was a picture perfect blue sky day, but the other two days were clouds and rain. This image was taken at the end of the second day as we had a break in the clouds, but it was very windy, especially in this spot. We didn’t have the best views at the pass due to weather, but it was still an amazing journey and I highly recommend it.

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