Unlocking the beauty of NZ’s Fiordland National Park, with Trips & Tramps

One of the most dramatic and awe inspiring parts of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park is a remarkable natural environment that enthrals visitors with its fiords, waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and the largest lake in New Zealand’s South Island. It also home to 3 of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Milford Track, the Routeburn, and the Kepler Track.

A circular route ideal with sections ideal for walkers of all abilities, the Kepler Track is a masterclass in natural beauty. Glacier carved valleys, waterfalls, native forest and vast mountains stretch as far as the eye can see, and the best way to unlock this iconic walk, is with Trips & Tramps.

For those travelling around New Zealand on Trafalgar’s new Southern Stories itinerary, a domestic tour exclusively available to New Zealand travellers, you will have the opportunity to walk the Kepler Track in the company of Steve and Kate, owners of Trips & Tramps. To find out more about this family run local business, and to discover more about this stunning region, we caught up with the pair…

What’s your back story – how did you start your journey with Trips & Tramps?

13 Years ago, (and 5 days after the birth of our 3rd child), we took over the business from Dave Hughes, who started Trips & Tramps in 1988. Steve was a long-time employee who knew the business well, and he was supported by Kate, who had a background in the reservation side of tourism, so the business had a good grounding from the beginning.

We began moulding the business to become our own, and it was necessary to create a unique selling point to survive and thrive in our small community. It was our passion and enthusiasm for tramping, having explored most of Fiordland’s tracks through work and play, that became the focus point. It was walking that set the business apart, and we began to differentiate the business by emphasising the walks and small groups on our Milford Sound day tour and developing guided day trips on Fiordland’s Great Walks, which includes the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Track.

Using the businesses’ extensive National Park concession to access the walks and our genuine ‘kiwi’ hospitality, today we share our back yard as only a local could.

Kate, Trips & Tramps
Steve from Trips & Tramps
Steve, from Trips & Tramps

Why do you love welcoming visitors to the Fiordland area?

Because Fiordland is truly special. With its glacial carved fiords, majestic waterfalls, lush rainforests and pristine lakes, the scale and magnitude of Fiordland needs to be seen to be believed. It offers a perfect retreat at the ends of the earth – you’re guaranteed to come away feeling inspired and reinvigorated like never before. Fiordland also offers an appreciation of the simple things that we often take for granted in the busyness of everyday life. Walking in Fiordland allows you to adjust to a slower pace of life, as the area is best enjoyed powered by your own two feet.

As a local, we can’t wait to share our piece of paradise with visitors, so that others can experience its unspoiled wilderness and make a connection with the area. Our local guides will share stories and bring the area to life.

Why do you think it’s so important for people to connect to nature, especially at the current time?

Fresh air and some exercise in the great outdoors ensures a good night’s sleep! There’s just something so serene about being in the green and experiencing it by foot, with the sound of nature exciting the senses and being exposed to the weather, whatever that may be on the day.

What do you think will be people’s most resounding memory from their visit to Fiordland?

The scale of the region, and the overwhelming natural beauty. The rawness and weather, where humans take a back seat to the environment and the few locals adapt to their surrounds, to enjoy the simple pleasures and amazing landscape.

What experience does Trips & Tramps have in store for Trafalgar visitors?

Dotted with ancient beech forest and winding around the edge of Lake Te Anau, the beginning of the Kepler offers an easy-going, highly enjoyable ‘taster’ of one of New Zealand’s most beautiful hikes.

With us, you’ll access this Great Walk by traveling across the lake by water taxi to the white sands of Brod Bay. On the guided walk you’ll then learn all you wish to know about the native fauna and flora of the Kepler Track, spot the birds, and identify the native orchids or abundant fungi. Exploring the Kepler with a guide is an awesome way to learn about the area’s unique ecological cycle, be introduced to the unique conservation efforts in effect in & around the trail and get a real taste of warm, kiwi hospitality.

Surrounded by the lush greens of the forest, from the ferns below to the moss hanging from the towering beech trees above, it is easy to make a connection to the land to unwind and connect to the landscape.

Kate, Trips & Tramps

To get a taste of the Kepler Track and the experience you can look forward to with Trips & Tramps, watch this short video:

Walking the Kepler Track with Trips & Tramps is an experience our Kiwi readers can now enjoy on Trafalgar’s new Southern Stories itinerary, exclusively available for those living in New Zealand. To learn more about our Near Not Far Limited Series of domestic trips, head here.

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