Grand Traverse



A Fine Grand Traverse Guided Walk

(05/03/2012 to 10/03/2012)

A. Introduction

This is our second guided walk in New Zealand’s South Island conducted by Ultimate Hikes. The first was Milford Track which we successfully completed a year ago.

This spectacular 6-day guided walk – The Grand Traverse - covering a distance of 73km in stunning South Island came with all meals, lodging and conveniences provided by Ultimate Heights. The Grand traverse is a combination of two tracks, namely The Greenstone Track and The Routeburn Track. The trek is often referred to as NZ’s premier guided walk. It crosses the east-west divide of the Southern Alps twice as it connects the easterly flowing Greenstone and Routeburn Rivers with an alpine traverse high above the Hollyford Valley.

Large Map

Route Map


B. The Track

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 (05/03/12) – Queenstown to Greenstone Car Park by bus and trek to Steele Creek

Day 2 (06/03/12) – Steele Creek to Lake McKellar

Day 3 (07/03/12) – Lake McKellar

Day 4 (08/03/12) – Lake McKellar to Lake Mackenzie

Day 5 (09/03/12) – Lake Mackenzie to Routeburn Falls

Day 6 (10/03/12) – Routeburn Falls to Road End and by bus to Queenstown

Day 1 – Queenstown by bus to Glenorchy and Greenstone Car Park and trek to Steele Creek

Queenstown to Greenstone Car Park

The drive to Glenorchy was spectacular. The road followed the shoreline of the giant Lake Wakatipu and all along the way the mountains were visible across the still water.

Scenic view of Lake Wakatipu

Greenstone Car Park to Steele Creek Lodge

We donned our backpacks and started the trek near the mouth of the fabled Greenstone River at about 10am in sunny weather. I carried a 5-6kg of backpack with clothing, packed sandwich lunch, sleeping bag, towel, toiletries, camera and drinking water.  I used a walking stick throughout the whole journey. The trail was in good condition for an easy first day 18km trek. It followed the Greenstone River up the valley through forests of red beech trees and prickly ferns. We first crossed a wobbling cable bridge across the Caples River.

By 12.30 we arrived at a lunch shelter where fruit drinks, tea, coffee, chocolate and cookies were served. There was even a flush toilet nearby!

We continued our trek after about a 45-minute lunch break. We arrived at Steele Creek Lodge for our first night accommodation. The lodge had two 12-bed bunk rooms with shared bathroom facilities. The beds were comfortable with duvets and pillows. There was a large kitchen where all our dinners, breakfasts and packed lunches were prepared by our guides. Hot showers, soaps shampoo and conditioner were all provided. A wash basin with detergent to do hand laundry and a drying room were available.  What pleased me most was a selection of NZ wines, beers and soft drinks were available for purchase!

The wobbly Swingbridge

Red Beech Forest

Greenstone Flats

Steele Creek Lodge

Day 2 – Steele Creek Lodge to Lake McKellar Lodge

In the morning, the scenery outside the lodge was beautiful with a colorful rainbow rising from the ground. 

Rainbow seen from Steele Creek Lodge

As with Day 1, Day 2 was a beautiful sunny day. After a hearty breakfast, we started our trek along the Greenstone Valley where we were treated to the beautiful views of the river roaring and waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides. Open areas were filled with pines and in the forests mosses grew on silver beech trees.

We crossed a couple of wobbly swing bridges constructed of wire mesh and steel cable, the last one was before w reached McKellar Lodge.

This day was an enjoyable 14-km walk. We spent two nights here as Day 3 was an optional day of rest or exploring.




                                                                         Greenstone valley


                                                    Wobbly Swing Bridge near McKellar Lodge   


Day 3 – Lake McKellar Lodge

This was our optional day of rest. However, we took a stroll to the waterfall not far from the Lodge. The fall was magnificent.

McKellar Lodge

Weterfall near Lake McKellar Lodge

Pg 1

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