The Kepler Track (45–70km; 3–4 days) was created in 1988 and designated as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. It was intended to take the load off the Milford and Routeburn tracks and has been so successful it has become equally popular. Tracing a wide loop through the Kepler Mountains on the western side of Lake Te Anau, the track has one full day of exposed subalpine ridge walking, some lovely virgin beech forest and has the advantage of being accessible on foot from Te Anau. Typically walked anticlockwise, getting most of the climbing out of the way early, the track ranges from as little as 45km – if you use boats and buses – to 70km for the full Te Anau–Te Anau walk.
Well graded and maintained throughout – to the extent that you barely need to look where you are treading – it is still lengthy and strenuous, particularly the long haul up to Luxmore Hut. Some sections can be closed after snowfall.
Top athletes complete the Kepler Challenge (first Sat in Dec), a run around the track, in under five hours. The current record, set by Phil Costley in 2005, is 4:37:41.