Ok, so Milford Track might be the more famous hiking trail in New Zealand, but it wouldn’t be right not to give a proper shout-out to the Routeburn Track Hike. What often makes Routeburn a much more attractive option over the Milford Track are its choices.
Not that it’s a good thing to compare since they’re both grand in their own right, but Routeburn’s 32km can be done in either direction (although the traditional start is from the Queenstown side), and camping is allowed. Hmm, doesn’t Routeburn sound good?
National Geographic thought so, naming it “One of the Top 11 Trails in the World” back in 2005. It isn’t rocket science to understand why; it falls right between Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Mostly Routeburn is known for its sweeping panoramic views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
What’s even better is Routeburn can be done by everyone in the family-since Routeburn can be hiked for the day. However, if the family decides to hike the entire thing, you can campout or rest up at one of Routeburn’s four huts (as well as an emergency shelter at Harris Saddle, the border between the two National Parks). Reservations are required at either the campsites or the huts, so you’d better call ahead to tell ’em you’re coming.
But, you don’t want to spend anytime indoors while you’re on the Routeburn, that’s for sure. Wouldn’t you much rather take in the views from trail’s high ridges? And you don’t want to do it as fast as some of the competitors at the annual Routeburn Classic (a late April/early May event), where the record to complete the entire thing is less than three hours.
Three hours to do 32 kilometers? That’s a little too fast to see some of the hiking trail’s local wildlife, like red deer; or bird watch, for that matter. Keep your eyes peeled for parrots, parakeets, warblers, and robins-and if you’re traveling with kids, try making a “BINGO” or scavenger hunt type game of it. What a great way to sneak in the educational stuff while having fun, don’t you think?
Don’t worry too much about Routeburn’s weather; this tramping route receives less rain than its Milford Sound cousin-which seems to have an effect on its local flora. For those of you who can’t tell a Red from a Mountain Beech, don’t worry, Routeburn’s got both.
The Routeburn Track hike is good wholesome fun for the whole family-with more choices than that other track that now shall remain nameless…