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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Matariki over Manapouri (The Kepler)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Hiking the Kepler Track over winter has been a goal of mine for a while.

As one of New Zealand's Great Walks,

The Kepler gets a lot of traffic in season,

but between May and October you can escape the crowds.

I thought it'd look really cool up there along a snow covered ridge👌🏻

I just had wait for the weather 👀

The forecast wasn't great,

In hindsight I may have been little optimistic 🤏🏿😅

But it was doable.

I Convinced Billy to come along,

He seemed hesitant at first but he loves a good mission.

It looked like a ripper of a day in Te Anau.

We picked up some breakfast, called into the DOC Centre for some hut tickets and a conditions report before heading to the Rainbow Reach Carpark.

Turns out there's a volunteer warden at Luxmore Hut year round now, some idiots were tearing up floorboards for firewood recently🤦🏻‍♂️

The first half of the day was easy walking, it wasn't until after the Brod Bay Campsite that we made any elevation.


Once we reached the Tussock lands it was easy walking again, the sky was dark but I was grateful to see above the trees.


We arrived at Luxmore Hut just after 4pm and hung out for a bit before investigating Luxmore Cave.

A couple had just returned describing the cave as underwhelming, but if there's a cave I've gotta have a look🤷🏻‍♂️😂

We strapped on our torches and headed out.

The entrance to the cave had a stairwell down to a small but roaring stream.

We followed it, crawling and climbing deeper underground, I'd completely lost track of time.

It kinda looks like I was exploring a crab😂

When we got back to the surface we could see a headtorch in the distance.

We disappeared for a couple of hours.

It didn't cross my mind that people might be concerned about us🤦🏻‍♂️

I was just doing what I came here to do🤷🏻‍♂️😂


I woke up Saturday morning well rested and once again enthused by what looked like a day for it.

Iris Burn Hut wasn't too far away and this was supposed to be the best part of the walk.

That bit of cloud hanging around Mount Luxmore didn't seem alarming at the time.

Little did we know we were walking right into the shit 😵‍💫


We turned a corner and said goodbye to the sky, the wind picked up dramatically, hurling rain, hail and snow at us throughout the day 😩

My hopes to summit Mt Luxmore were gone with the wind,it wasn't worth the risk😮‍💨

There were two emergency shelters on the way to Iris Burn Hut,

Breaking the day up made it a lot easier.

There were a few breaks in the weather but nothing lasting, the ridgeline I had romanticized wasn't in the mood 🧐


The windiest section was between the second shelter and the end of the ridge,

We found out later it actually swept a girl off her feet earlier that day.

Not the place you want to take a tumble 😬

Below the ridgeline and back under the trees we were now covering some good ground, hoping that someone at the hut had the fire going.

We were in luck, the chimney was smoking at the dining room was warm.

The hut itself had three bunk areas and the six of us come in groups of two, so we had a room each.

No surprise snoring🤞🏼

I lay in bed that night sniffling🤧

The next day my energy levels were low and fatigue had set it.

It was a long but mostly flat walk out,never the less I was well worn😵

Saturdays ridgeline ⏫⏫

Sunday looking over Lake Manapouri ⏬⏬

I was relieved to see the bridge back to my car late Sunday afternoon,

I was falling behind early and had just taken the day at my own pace, but still got to the car an hour or so faster than predicted.

It wasn't the weekend I'd hoped for but it had its moments, for better or worse I felt pretty fucking good about myself for a guy feeling like shit🤧👌

I inhaled a plate of fish and chips from The Ranch in Te Anau before making the long drive home.

I'll be back out there as soon as I'm done coughing up this flem😅

Till then 🙋🏻‍♂️

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