Routeburn, Greenstone and Caples Track huts, campsites and shelters

These tracks are often walked in various combinations of a loop as they are in parallel valleys with the same start and/or end points.

The Great Walk and serviced huts are generally comfortable with reasonable amenity, although they do have a winter season where the water to the inside taps is turned off, pipes are drained to avoid damage from freezing, instead you have to go to an outside tank. Any flushing toilets are also locked, you have to use a long drop.

The Great Walk huts have the summer/winter pricing difference and the requirement for summer season booking. This doesn’t apply to the other huts which have the same price all year round and are on a first-come-grabs-the-bunk basis.

Note that camping is only permitted at the official campsites although it is okay to camp for free a minimum of 500 m from the track. The problem with this 500 m limit is that there are few locations where it is physically possible to whack up your tent, the country is either covered in tussock, not easy to sleep on those massive lumps, on a considerable slope, on private land or all of the above.

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Chinamans carpark shelter | Dart River, Mt Aspiring National Park

Chinamans Bluff carpark roadend shelter, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

If it’s raining cats and dogs you take whatever shelter you can.

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Daley Flat Hut campsite | Rees Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

One of the sites. | Campsite, Daley Flat Hut, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

A few reasonably sheltered camping spots are located around the hut.

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Daley Flat Hut | Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Exterior. | Daley Hut, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

No one’s favourite hut, but it does the job.

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Dart Hut campsite | Rees Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Maybe the best site, nestled into the forest. | Campsite, Dart Hut, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

The best “official” campsites on the Rees Dart track are near Dart Hut.

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Dart Hut | Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Exterior. | Dart Hut, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

A five-star hut built in an almost five-star location.

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Dart River rock bivvy | Rees Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rock bivvy, Dart River, Mt Aspiring National Park

A surprisingly dry, if not dusty, alternative to a tent or hut for the adventurous.

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Earnslaw Hut | Mt Aspiring National Park

Exterior | Earnslaw Hut, Mt Aspiring National Park

Not the most comfortable of bunks here, but good enough shelter whether or not you intend to climb Mt Earnslaw.

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Fern Burn Hut | Mt Soho Station Pastoral Lease

Closest to Wanaka and therefore the most accessible on the Motatapu Track, Fern Burn Hut has a reasonable number of daytrippers and overnighters who don’t want to commit to the full expedition.

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Greenstone Hut | Greenstone Track / Mavora Walkway, Greenstone Conservation Area

The hut is a fairly compact structure.  | Greenstone Hut, Greenstone Track

Greenstone Hut is similar in style to the new Mid Caples Hut, ie, generous in space, firedoors on the two separate sleeping areas, double glazing, bigtime insulation, taps inside the hut, at least during summer, otherwise you need to go outside to the rainwater tank. And the big picture windows.

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Greenstone roadend shelter and carpark | Greenstone Track, Greenstone Conservation area

Yup, the Greenstone carpark. | Greenstone shelter and carpark, Greenstone Track

Not much amenity here, no bunks, etc, just a three sided shelter at the carpark, 10km or so up a cul-de-sac from Kinloch.

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Greenstone Saddle campsite | Greenstone Track

The entrance to the camping area on a misty old day.  | Greenstone Saddle camping area, Greenstone Track

The Greenstone Saddle campsite, while sometime somewhat exposed, is otherwise just dandy, nice view, removed from passers-by but it doesn’t boast much in the way of amenity for your bucks, no kitchen shelter here, just the long drop.

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Harris Saddle Shelter | Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park

Harris Saddle Shelter is a simple shelter with a toilet, but on the positive side it is shelter.

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Highland Creek Hut | Mt Soho Station Pastoral Lease

Highland Creek Hut has the most spectacular setting of the Motatapu huts with the same efficient design as Roses: two large sleeping platforms with mattresses, the big table and plenty of seating.

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Kea Basin rock bivvy | Mt Aspiring National Park

Ricky bivvy, Kea Basin, Mt Aspiring National Park

For those who like to sleep under a rock this is perfect accommodation.

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Lake Howden Hut | Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park

Lake Howden Hut has a lovely location on the outlet of a small creek from Lake Howden, at the junction of the Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks. Split level with bunks upstairs and decent living area downstairs.

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Lake Mackenzie campsite | Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park

The kitchen structure and a few campsites.  | Lake Mackenzie camping area, Routeburn Track

This is a great location, pity the artificially grassed sites weren’t more suited to the activity of camping, ie, not exactly level and somewhat lumpy.

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Lake Mackenzie Hut | Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park

The hut is situated adjacent to Lake Mackenzie | Lake Mackenzie Hut, Routeburn Track

Well sited Lake Mackenzie Hut with a view to the nearby lake with Ocean Peak around to Emily Peak as a backdrop, and round to the left some peaks of the Darran Range some distance away. Just about as picturesque a spot as you could imagine.

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Macetown campsite | Macetown Historic Reserve, Motatapu Track

The Macetown campsite is under those old trees. | Macetown campsite, Arrow River near Arrowtown

Not many facilities here and a long way to get water from the Arrow River but it is a pleasant spot to put up a tent under the leafy trees.

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McKeller Hut | Greenstone Track, Greenstone Conservation Area

The hut is close to the upper Greenstone River not far from the lake. | McKellar Hut, Greenstone Track

Recently renovated/extended McKeller Hut on a small river flat near the upper Greenstone River, not far from the lake.

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Mid Caples Hut | Caples Track, Greenstone Conservation Area

The old Mid Caples Hut has been replaced by the new Caples Hut. | Caples Hut, Caples Track

The recently rebuilt Mid Caples Hut is typical of the bigger huts that DOC is building on the secondary tracks around NZ, generous in space, firedoors on the two separate sleeping areas, double glazing, bigtime insulation, taps inside the hut, at least during summer, otherwise you need to go outside to the rainwater tank. And the big picture windows.

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Roses Hut | Mt Soho Station Pastoral Lease

These are the new breed of DOC huts, double glazed, heavily insulated and in this instance, being in tussock country and lacking in firewood, no heating.

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Routeburn Falls Hut | Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

There's a great view up behind the two huts, guided closest, DOC behind. | Routeburn Falls Hut, Routeburn Track

Adjacent to the actual Routeburn Falls the Routeburn Falls Hut is built on stilts with a grand overview of the lower Routeburn valley.

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Routeburn Flats campsite | Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

All the campsites are stretched out along the flat just above the Route Burn. | Routeburn Flats camping area

Routeburn Flats campsite is a hugely popular summer camp site due to the proximity to Queenstown and the mostly flat walk in.

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Routeburn Flats Hut | Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

The Flats hut is down on the flats. |  Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Track

Routeburn Flats Hut is one of the two original huts still left on the track although it has been recently modified and with a large picnic verandah area added for the numerous summer daytrippers.

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Shelter Rock Hut campsite | Rees Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Close to the hut. | Campsite, Shelter Rock Hut, Rees-Dart Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

A few camp sites scattered around near the hut are almost level, almost smooth, almost sheltered.

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Shelter Rock Hut | Rees Dart Track

Main building with woodburner, and two bedroom block. | Shelter Rock Hut, Rees Dart Track

Located at the bushline, the backdrop is way rugged, even if the actual climb to Rees Saddle a few kilometres away is not so tough.

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Slip Flat Hut | off the Greenstone Track, Greenstone Conservation Area

The cutest hut around, but there's no signage to tell you where it is, just a faint track.  | Slip Flat Hut, Greenstone Track

Slip Flat Hut is one of the cutest huts around, petite, it’s only a three bunker, open fireplace, shelving with various jars. Those who know of its existence and whereabouts clearly respect and care for this character filled hut.

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Steele Creek Hut | off the Greenstone Track, Greenstone Conservation Area

The hut is on the edge of the forest with a big matagouri flat adjacent.  | Steele Creek Hut, Greenstone Track

Steele Creek Hut might be renovated but it hasn’t been overdone. The concrete floor still doesn’t extend across the entire horizontal surface where it might be expected, the beech sapling structure has bark attached, the interior lining is still old fertiliser bags. Yes, plenty of character.

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The Divide Shelter | Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park

The Divide Shelter is a simple shelter with benches, tables and toilets, and plenty of space to park cars and the odd bus or five.