New Zealand’s trails and national parks are renowned for their pristine condition and rich and varied wildlife. Part of the reason why they are in such good condition, despite the thousands of visitors they receive each year, is due to the strict restrictions they place on hikers entering the parks.
For the Kepler Track in particular, all rubbish and items brought into the park must be carried out by hikers (no garbage bins or tips are provided), and there are no stores available in the park to buy food or any hiking supplies. With this in mind, check out the pack list for hiking the Kepler Track in the summer months (approx. January to March) below!
- Backpack (I found a 60-litre rucksack a good size to accommodate all items)
- Waterproof/plastic pack liner
- Sleeping bag (3 season is a good option, particularly if you get cold easily – it can get surprisingly cold in the bunkhouse!)
- First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blisterkit, personal medication e.g. antihistamine for allergy to wasp stings)
- Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, highenergy snack food – the weather can change drastically on the Kepler Track, it’s always good to be prepared)
- Map and compass (the trail is well-marked, but it is helpful to have the map in case you wish to take any side-excursions)
- Drink bottle or hydration system (1-2 litre capacity)
- Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup, pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel)
- Matches or lighter in waterproof container (the bunkhouses provide cooking gas, but no lighters)
- Toiletries (there are no showers in the bunkhouses, but it’s up to you whether you want a ‘sink shower’ or just have greasy hair for a couple of days)
- Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
- Rubbish bag
- Tickets and ID (the hut wardens need these to confirm your booking!)
If you’re camping
- Sleeping mat
- Extra tent pegs!
- Ear plugs for communual bunkrooms (particularly if you’re a light sleeper – there’s some heavy snoring that goes on in the bunkhouses)
- For multi-day walking you’ll need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night.
- Hiking boots and some sandals to wear around the hut (hiking boots must be left at the door upon entry to the huts)
- Socks (wool or polypropylene)
- Shorts (quick dry material)
- Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
- Insulating layers (merino wool sweater or fleece)
- Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
- Overtrousers (wind and waterproof)
- Warm hat and gloves (it can get really nippy on the ridge)
- Sunhat and sunglasses
- Extra socks, underwear, shirt/lightweight jersey
You can’t buy food on the track! It’s always better to take too much than too little food, so stock up on snacks to keep you going!
Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy-value. For example, we ate the following food when hiking the Kepler Track:
- Breakfast: porridge with honey, and a hot green apple tea
- Lunch: sandwiches with cheese and ham, an apple, trail mix and some chocolate
- Dinner: pasta with pesto or aioli sauce, with vegetables such as carrots or peas, with chocolate for dessert along with a cup of herbal tea
It is also worth bringing a couple of rehydration sachets and extra high-energy snacks in case you fall a little under the weather on the trek.
As for water, taps are available at all the bunkhouses to fill up bottles or hydration systems each day. The water isn’t treated, but it is collected from the mountain and neither myself nor any of the hut wardens have fallen sick drinking it – just choose whatever you’re more comfortable doing with your peace of mind, so you can enjoy the Kepler Track!
Share your tips and tricks with others below!