Wild Things - New Zealand's trail running community
New Zealand's trail running community


don't have an account?

The Routeburn , Southland

Trail Directory proudly supported by Further Faster

Update Your Header Picture

The Routeburn Intermediate

Submitted by Andre Chalmers

Info Info
Map Loading

Trail Information






Te Anau

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)


Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops


5:00 (Slow)
4:00 (Moderate)
2:50 (Fast)



Download PDF Guide
View trail on Capra App

Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

Please set your gender to see your position on the FKT leaderboards.


Show more


Show more

Filter FKTs

The more , the harder the FKT will be to beat. Learn about Fastest Known Times.

Missing your time?

Register or login as a VIP and get yourself on the FKT leaderboard!

Register Now


This is the 'Classic' many say the best trail in Godzone under the marathon distance. The classic is the name for the race but also the standard 32km Routeburn running from the Divide to the Shelter.

There are lots of alternate possibilities but this is the pure original. This is one track you will keep coming back to it is seriously that good.
You can tick this one off if you have done the race or a training run starting from The Divide. The trail is quite well marked (read the yellow and green DOC signs if you are not sure) you will pass many trampers on the way. On a training run chill at the huts for a few minutes, on race day just go hard!

Starting in diverse Milford temperate rain forest you will ascend up and then down to the site of the old Howden Hut (no longer available for shelter). Up past Earland Falls, then watch out for The Orchard I love this spot, then down again to MacKenzie Hut.

After this it's a massive slog and a lot of vertical to ascend up to Ocean Peak Corner (look for the sea on a good day). Then head up to the Harris Saddle, just after this you will hit the highest point on the main track.

From here it's sweet downhill.....except that's for the pro's that can navigate the technical downhill at the speed of a goat running away from a hunter! Lots of rocks to navigate but most runners love that stuff. You go past Routeburn Falls Hut and then the speedy part begins. The track opens up into an easy to run downhill, past Routeburn Flats and then undulates past some stunning views...keep running your heart out - you can come back to marvel these wonders another day.
You are running the Routeburn and to do so means you are giving it your all and when you get to the Routeburn Shelter you will be buzzing and feeling better than most other trails since the distance of 32km is so sweet!

Trail Community

Find people who are interested in this run.

You must register or login to view this content.

Features of interest

Stunning trail, check out the amazing spots the huts are located in with lakes, rivers and waterfalls just a small sample of the area. Special points of interest are Lake Howden, Lake MacKenzie, Lake Harris, Routeburn River, Routeburn Falls and Earland Falls. Split rock is worth a visit and is a side trip off Mackenzie Hut. Conical Hill is the highest point on the official trail (above Harris Saddle) but is also a side trip and well worth it if you have the time and the energy! The site of the old Howden Hut has a side trail which leads to the Greenstone/Caples Tracks and opens up new running possibilities!
Key Summit (the access to the Whisky Trail) is another insanely good side trip near The Divide but with a bit of vertical you want to be fit to run this as well the whole track. Near the Harris Saddle look for the aptly named Deadmans Track which leads you to the Hollyford River.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 35%

Moderate Single Track: 35%

Easy Single Track: 30%

Route Data


You must register or login to view this content.


You must register or login to view this content.

Your Trail Wishlist

All the runs that are on your To Do list (no limit).

Add to wishlist view wishlist

Your Trail Dreamlist

The runs you most want to do (limited to 10).

Add to dreamlist view dreamlist

Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Simply head up the Milford Highway until you get The Divide on your right. The easiest way to remember is you first have Lake Gunn on your left then Lake Fergus on your right and then straight after you get to The Divide carpark. Note that the annual race starts slightly further down the highway near Lake Lochie, a third very small lake.

    Transport is usually tricky as this is not a loop track and the drive time is usually more than the run time!!
    Either self drive and swap keys with someone doing the reverse direction, or pay a company to relocate your car from one end to the other.
    There are several bus options available including on race day. The fastest option on race day is taking the helicopter and avoids all the hassle.
    Parking is at The Divide (start) and Routeburn Shelter (end), there is usually enough space but during peak season these parks get pretty full.

    84 km

    65 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    This track is pretty straight forward, having said that there are numerous side trails so read the signage. Forks include: The Divide, Lake Howden campsite and Pass Creek Track near Lake Howden, Split Rock side track near Lake MacKenzie, Deadmans Track and Conical Hill near the Harris Saddle. Near the Routeburn River there are several mini trails plus the infamous nature walk some runners have accidentally taken during the race. Basically if you are not sure of the route stop and read the sign, get out a map or GPS, if you do make a mistake it should be obvious pretty quickly, look for trampers they are everywhere and a very good source of information.


    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map.

    Water is everywhere on the track. Even in dry conditions it would be a maximum of half an hour at any point between good drinking locations.

    During winter avalanches and snow make the track seriously dangerous at times. Always check with DOC as well as checking the weather forecast before going. If it's too dangerous usually winter through to spring don't hesitate to wait for another day. This track has claimed lives and runners are usually less prepared for adverse weather.

    The main things to look out for are rocks, yes it should be called the 'Rockburn' there are seriously thousands of them in different sizes, add to that roots and small sections of mud and it can make for an interesting run. If it's raining it is still doable but ups the challenge level as you may get slightly uncomfortable. Watch for the cliff drops especially around the Hollyford facing section before the Harris Saddle and then immediately above Lake Harris. Also the descent just before the Routeburn Falls is very rocky and slippery at times, use the handrails when provided.
    It can get windy on the tops too. Watch out for snow and avalanches in winter time and don't hesitate to turn back if it becomes too treacherous.

  • Post run indulgence

    Glenorchy Cafe Restaurant
    25 Mull St | Opp Petrol Station, Glenorchy Otago, New Zealand
    This place is compulsory, gotta check it out and the chilled out atmosphere that Glenorchy has to offer.

    Kinloch Lodge Restaurant
    Lake Wakatipu, Central Otago, Glenorchy 9372, New Zealand
    Ok this place is slightly away from it all and will take a few more minutes to get to being in Kinloch, but it is seriously worth going to if you get the chance. The setting is stunning and it's a quaint little place to grab some dinner and drinks.

  • Blog Posts and Articles
  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


Got a favourite trail? Tell us about it.

Share the love and add your favourite trail(s) to our growing trail directory.

Submit A Trail

Become a member today

Start enjoying the many benefits to becoming a member of our thriving community.

Become a member

Great brands at great prices with our VIP member's discount

Stay up to date

Sign up to our newsletter for latest offers and trail guides

Share this trail with a friend:

VIP Membership

Please register as a VIP or login to your VIP account to view this content.

Cancel Login Register

Membership Required

You can see up to three trail guides without being logged in but after that we require you to be logged in to your Free or VIP account. If you don’t yet have an account you can register here.

Login Register