Birding · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
Permit required - New Zealand has unique system of simple (mostly) back country huts that typically have wood/coal heating stoves, plastic-covered mattresses, clean water and bunkhouse communal living. Space can be limited and permits are required. Check in the LDOC offices of major towns for permits. Good information can be found here: doc.govt.nz/
Leaving the parking lot, you get to the first of many suspension bridges. This gives you your first look at the bleached rocks and emerald green waters of the Routeburn River. Immediately, you enter a forest of the large gnarled Southern Beech trees, and you remain in that forest for most of the trail.
On the lower sections of the trail, the forest ground is covered in thick layers of mosses fed by a myriad of small streams. Many of the streams can be heard but not seen because they are obscured by the moss and fallen decaying trees. You steadily gain altitude while skirting the edge of steep mountain sides. Suspension bridges along the way give you good looks at the rocky, water-carved streams that look like a powerful, natural luge track. If the sun is out, the spray from strong waterfalls create rainbows. After a couple of miles, the trail flattens out but stays high in the forest. Soon you get glimpses of the yellow fields of tussock grass, and the trail skirts the edge of a large flat plain. Look for the turn-off to the right for the Flats Hut.
Note:Typically along the way you are accompanied by the Fantail. This adorable bird gets it's name from the way it flashes it's tail like a Japanese fan. They float around like a hummingbird, constantly changing direction to nab the insects you are disturbing.
Flora & Fauna
Southern Beech forests, Kea and Kaka parrots, Bellbird, Grey warbler, South Island Robin, Fantail and Brown creeper, Lancewood plants, Kiwi (you'll hear them but probably not see them), invasive Australian possums.