On our first walking trip to Fiordland I wanted to do a few of the well known day walks that take in some of the best scenery. The Key Summit Track can be fit easily into half a day, and has a very high views to effort ratio. It’s mainly a views walk, so one to save for a clear day, and in fact we had planned two days in Fiordland to coincide with rare cloudless skies. There’s spectacular views of the Darran, Ailsa and Serpentine mountain ranges, picturesque tarns and bogs, and views into the Lower Hollyford Valley.
It’s a popular route, and a short side trip off the Routeburn Track, so you’d have to get there very early to have any serenity, but as a quick introduction to Fiordland scenery it is hard to beat. You can continue down the hill on the Routeburn Track for a short while to Lake Howden, which is quite picturesque. There used to be a hut there but that was washed away in a landslide not long ago. Track notes at the end.
Key Summit Track & Lake Howden: The Scenery
On an obvious and constructed track the whole way, mostly through beech forest until the final short climb to the summit at 918m. The alpine nature trail loop on the tops is nice, and there is a viewpoint towards Lake Marian on a short side trip. Park at the Divide car park, which is the start or end of the multi-day Routeburn Track. More information on the DOC website.