Caples Track | South Island, NZ, 2010

Distance :  18.6 miles (30 km)img_2591_2

Avg. Time :  1 or 2 days

Start / Finish :

Season :

  • November to April.
  • To avoid the crowds, probably best in February/March after the kids have gone back to school.

Maps / Info :

  • See the DOC website for a basic map (all you need) and up-to-date information on the walk.
  • The Lonely Planet guide Tramping in New Zealand has a map and trekking notes.

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Route / Conditions :

  • The Caples Track is well marked and easy to follow.
  • The only section which is remotely difficult is the ascent and descent of McKellar saddle. Good views from the top in clear weather.
  • Most people link the Caples with the Greenstone track, thereby completing a loop back to the Greenstone carpark.
  • As a more spectacular alternative, I would recommend combining the Caples with the Routeburn via Howden Hut. By doing so, you would finish your walk at Routeburn shelter, from where there is regular transport back to Queenstown.
  • If you are really feeling energetic, consider continuing on past the Routeburn shelter to link up with the Cascade Saddle Route. This can be done via the Rockburn Track, which begins at Lake Sylvan carpark (5km past the finish of the Routeburn).
  • Combining all four (Caples, Routeburn, Rockburn and Cascade Saddle) tracks makes for a challenging 133km route through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on the South Island. See the Wakatipu-Matukituki Route for more details.

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Sleeping :

  • Huts or camping. No reservations necessary.
  • Nice views from Mid Caples hut. An hour away is Upper Caples hut, which is larger, less scenic and can be inundated with sandflies.

Overview :

  • Short walk which can easily be combined with the Greenstone or Routeburn Tracks.

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