After hiking 14.1km's of the Kepler Track, with the majority of the trail being primarily up-hill and the last kilometre battling a crazy blizzard, this wondrous sight of the Luxmore Hut in the distance (as pictured) could not have been more welcoming.
With backpacks full of warm clothes, water, and food, we left our camper-van in the nearby town of Te Anau, and ventured off via foot early morning to tackle what was a challenging hike at times, but oh-so-very rewarding.
The Luxmore Hut sits 3,560 feet above sea level, and was such a cosy and picturesque spot to take shelter and spend the night before continuing on our way the following day.
Much to our delight, we were greeted with firewood, running water, and 360 degree views of the mountain ranges that surrounded us.. and it wasn't long before we had company! Hours by the fire were spent with two solo-travellers, Kathryn & Chris, where we shared stories and snacks - warm cuppa soup and biscuits have never tasted so good!
Instead of sleeping in the upstairs bedrooms, we decided to bring the sleeping mats down to the common area by the warm fire, where we talked, ate, and laughed until darkness well & truly set in. Outside the wind was howling and temperatures were below freezing, we were kept warm near the fire, but once we fell asleep and the wood burnt through, we awoke feeling extremely chilly! But nothing a hot cup of tea in the morning couldn't fix :)
Unfortunately severe avalanche warnings from Docs meant that we could all not continue along the ridge and complete the remainder of the loop trail. The next morning we explored a nearby cave together, and then turned back the way we came for the sake of safety.. We were disheartened to not have been able to hike the track in it's entirety, but it has also given us a reason to return.. Kepler, we have unfinished business with you!
The Kepler Track was our first overnight tramping experience in New Zealand, and one that we will remember for always. We will remember it for all of the lessons that we have since learnt from (like how important it is to bring a warm sleeping bag with you overnight, and not just a fleece blanket!), the unforgettable views once we reached the hut, and the friends that we made along the journey. We will be back to conquer.