Since the 1880's the Routeburn Track has proved to be one of the most accessible and popular journeys into New Zealand's forests and mountains.
The Routeburn Track passes through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring, and is part of Te Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The area is a haven for native birdlife: the Robin; Fantail; Parakeet; Bellbird; Yellowhead and watch out for the resident Kea at Routeburn Falls! The variety of landscapes will astound you: mountainous peaks; sheer rock faces; alpine basins; pristine lakes; cascading waterfalls; luxuriant forest; turquoise rivers and million dollar views around every corner.
The Routeburn Track Guided Walk is a 3 day / 2 night Queenstown to Queenstown all-inclusive guided walk exploring New Zealand's Southern Alps. The package includes all transport, accommodation, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets. Accommodation is in our comfortable lodges and you will be led by our expert guides.
Routeburn Track ProfileEnlarge image
The first human traffic in the Routeburn area (around 1500AD) is believed to have been local Maori on the pursuit of their precious Pounamu (New Zealand Greenstone or Jade). The Routeburn itself didn't contain large quantities of Greenstone, but was used by Maori as a passage between two of their main sources, the Dart Valley and the Arahura River on the West Coast.
David McKellar and George Gunn were the first Europeans to map the area whilst searching for grazing land in 1861. Gold was discovered and so the government investigated establishing a port on the West Coast and a track up the Routeburn Valley over the Harris Saddle to the Hollyford Valley with the intention of transporting gold overseas. Work was started on the track but abandoned in 1870. However the Routeburn did become the link between those families who had settled in the Hollyford Valley and the Wakatipu, which was a thriving commercial centre.
The first sightseers from Queenstown up the Routeburn Valley were in the 1880s. The NZ Government Department of Tourism was set up in the early 1900s, and work on the Routeburn Track restarted. In 1912 a direct route from the saddle to Lake Howden was investigated, which led to the discovery of Lake Mackenzie. Construction of the track began, but tools were downed with the outbreak of World War 1 and this section was not completed until the late 1930s.