Trek Notes - New Zealand

Grand Traverse

Grand Traverse Guided Walk

General Information
The Grand Traverse starts on the shores of Lake Wakitipu and stretches the length of the Greenstone and Routeburn Valleys, crossing the main divide twice in the process. The Greenstone and Routeburn Tracks have long been New Zealand's most accessible and popular routes into the spectacular South Island high country.
The Grand Traverse passes through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring, and is part of Te Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The pristine bush is home to a myriad of native bird life: the Robin; Kea; Fantail; Parakeet; Bellbird; and Yellowhead, just to name a few.  The sheer isolation and raw beauty of the Greenstone provide the perfect stage for the breathtaking scenery of the Routeburn. An unsurpassable combination to make a memorable walking experience.
The Grand Traverse is a 6 day / 5 night Queenstown to Queenstown all-inclusive guided walk in New Zealand's South Island high country. The package includes all transport, accommodation, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets. Accommodation is in our fully serviced lodges and you will be led by our expert guides

DAY 1: Greenstone Car Park to Steele Creek 18 Kms. 5-7 Hours walking
Travel from Queenstown by coach to the start of the walk and set out through beech forests to the Greenstone Gorge and onto Steele Creek Lodge.

DAY 2: Steele Creek to Lake McKellar 14 km. 4-6 hours walking
Cross the swingbridge behind the lodge one by one then head out into open plains of the Greenstone Valley. The views are vast in every direction, the river snakes it's way down the valley with the mighty mountains looking down from both sides. The Mid Greenstone Gorge is your first chance to get close to the river, the green water here will astound you.
Cross rocky slips, remnants of the ice age, as you make your way back into the emerald world of the Beech forest, a garden of ferns and mosses. Stay in the forest until the lunch shelter, where your guides have everything ready and waiting once again.
After lunch the track passes in and out of the forest, astounding you with everything from the tiniest red lichen on a rock to a 2000m mountain towering above. The track follows the river as you approach the lodge, cross a swingbrige once again and arrive at McKellar Lodge, nestled in a small clearing looking out upon forest and river.

DAY 3: Exploration and Rest at Lake McKeller
Today you can stay in the lodge taking it easy or do any number of walks from a 15 minute lakeside stroll to a challenging 900m climb up to the tops of the Livingstone Mountains. 
Your guides will explain all the options: the demanding climb to the very top of the ranges (1538m); the Greenstone Valley Lookout or the waterfall walk.  We also have a dinghy at the lodge for a little jaunt on Lake McKellar.

DAY 4: Lake McKellar to Lake Mackenzie 16 km. 5-7 hours walking

In one of the lushest parts of the forest start your walk following the shore of Lake McKellar. This is one of the wettest areas in New Zealand which makes it a haven for mosses and ferns. Leave the forest and cross the Greenstone Saddle, part of the main divide, and on to the head of Lake Howden.
At the far end of Lake Howden is Howden Hut, where the Greenstone and Caples join the Routeburn. Leave your packs at the hut and follow your guides up to Key Summit where we have the first of those breathtaking Routeburn views with a panorama of the Hollyford, Greenstone and Eglington Valleys.
Descend back to Lake Howden hut for a hot drink and lunch, before gradually climbing through lush Silver Beech forest to the base of Earland Falls.  Continue traversing around the mountainside with the glimpses of the Hollyford Valley just a teaser for what is to come tommorrow. Pass through the natural clearing of the Orchard before descending into the Mackenzie basin. Lake MacKenzie is 5 minutes further on from the lodge, slow down and take it all in on your first night on the Routeburn Track side of the Grand Traverse.

DAY 5: Lake Mackenzie to Routeburn Falls via Harris Saddle 15 km. 4-6 hrs walking
You leave the emerald waters of Lake Mackenzie; climb the zigzag above the bush line and cross the Hollywood face with its dramatic alpine landscape. After crossing the Harris Saddle and skirting Lake Harris, you descend into an immense alpine basin, which is alive with summer flowers. Continue on to Routeburn falls lodge.

DAY 6: Routeburn Falls to Routeburn Road end to Queenstown 10 km. 3-4 hours walking
Your last day is the least stenuous, a nice way to wind down and take time to enjoy the enviromnent.
The descent from Routeburn Falls to Routeburn Flats takes you through a rich mixed Beech forest as you slowly lose altitude and reach the valley floor. Morning tea is at Routeburn Flats Hut, set in natural grasslands surrounded with moutains rising straight up from the flat valley floor.
Below the flats the Routeburn River enters its gorge, surging among boulders in frothing white torrents at one turn and resting in the clear jade pools at the next before finally disappearing underground at the Sump. Lunch is right by the river at Forge Flat, you may even be inspired to take a plunge; your guides will encourage you with this!
From here it's a gentle stroll downhill to the end of the track, but not before you pass through the Red Beech section with it's huge gnarled ancient forest giants. A coach will be waiting at the road end to take you back to Queenstown, stopping at Glenorchy for a group photo. Tonight a celebration dinner is held in a local restaurant, a great night to finish off a magnificent experience.


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