Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Whisky Trail and Routeburn

Te Anau, Otago

Submitted by James Harcombe

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 114 ?

Gnarl Factor: 64 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)

Very hilly

Native bush



Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +11.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -10.7%


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Estimated Times to Run







From the Divide, follow the Routeburn Track as far as Howden Hut. Take a right turn at the hut down the Greenstone. About 10k into the run, and just before McKellar Hut, you will cross a bridge, after which the Hut is signposted to the left. At this point, turn right and follow the orange markers up the spur on the fairly obvious track. One of the markers is marked 'to point 1543'. Once above the treeline, continue up the spur, until you reach a flatter boggy area. From here, head to the peak off to the right (marked as pt1543 on the topo map). There is an obvious line between two rock outcrops - be prepared, it is steep!

Once at the top, you will want to stop and take in the awesome views! From here, scramble down the scree on the Northern Slopes, and continue North on the obvious ridge. Eventually, you'll reach the Key Summit Track, and descend onto the Routeburn Track. from here, you can turn left and go back to the Divide if you're doing it as a loop (about 25km's), or turn right, and head along the track to the Routeburn Shelter.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

If you want to just do the Whisky Trail, then there's plenty of car parking at the Divide. To add in the Routeburn, you will need to arrange transport with one of the many bus companies, or get Trackhopper to re-locate your car (

84 km

66 minutes




At the flat boggy area on the way to pt1543, navigation would be difficult without line of sight. The route's not recommended in bad weather.


Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions)

Plenty of water on the lower sections and the Routeburn Track, however, once on the spur towards pt1543 there is very little water. Along the tops between pt1543 and Key Summit, there are a few alpine tarns if you're desperate!

The Whisky Trail is a fine weather, summer only run. During the Winter, there is significant avalanche hazard and ice. The trail should also be avoided in poor visibility - there have been deaths on the peak in summer.

Avalanche prone, snow and ice after storms. Steep bluffs and cliffs on the side of pt1543

Kinloch Lodge
Best selection of beer near Glenorchy! Great coffee and accommodation as well (with a spa for post run indulgence!)

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