Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle & Conical Hill, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The Routeburn is a classic New Zealand multi-day walk, and the section in Mt Aspiring National Park to Harris Saddle, with a side trip to Conical Hill, is probably the most stupendously picturesque. You should do it.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

One of New Zealand’s classic multi-day walks, the Routeburn Track can be walked from the Glenorchy end to Harris Saddle in a long day. The views are fabulous, and you can also fit in a short but steep side trip to the summit of Conical Hill (1515m) for even more fantastic views. It’s inevitably popular, but probably won’t be as busy as you think. It rates as possibly the best walk we’ve done to date, although with a well graded track and good facilities, it lacks the remoteness of some other great NZ day walks.

I took so many photos that even after a brave cull I decided to split this into two walks, with the section from the start to Routeburn Flats posted separately. The DOC has notes for the whole walk, and the Conical Hill side trip is obvious when you get to Harris Saddle.

Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle/Conical Hill: The Scenery

Following are pics from Routeburn Flats to Conical Hill and back. Click here to look at my photos from the start to Routeburn Flats.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
The Humbolt Mountains above Routeburn Flats.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Peaks around Routeburn Flats.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
A waterfall just above the Falls Huts.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
The scene above the tree line.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
I thought this photo needs a cheesy motivational quote to complement it, and came up with: “Always take the path in life with the most flowers, but beware of an occasional Spaniard”. Mmm, needs some work, especially that bit which insults a whole nation of people. But that plant on the left is sometimes called a Spaniard, and they will draw blood if you so much as glance against them. So even if my motivational quote achieves nothing else, at least you will be wary of these beautiful but lethal plants (also known as spear grass, appropriately, at least the spear part).

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
The Routeburn Left Branch and surrounding peaks.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Another waterfall on the Routeburn Left Branch.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Mt Xenicus (1912m), which is quite prominent from a few different angles on this walk.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Just as you think the views don’t get any better you come across Lake Harris.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Lake Harris
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Cliffs on the other side of Lake Harris. I took more picks of Lake Harris later in the day when the weather cleared.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
At Harris Saddle: mountains on the other side of the Hollyford Valley, with the Harris Saddle Hut (day use only) centre of picture.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Looking towards the Darran Mountains on the other side of Hollyford Valley.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Mt Xenicus looming rather from this angle.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Lots of alpine wildflowers on the way up Conical Hill.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Near the summit of Conical Hill.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
These peaks are part of the Serpentine Range.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
I can’t remember which direction this was, but another shot from the summit of Conical Hill.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Probably Mt Gifford, (or else Mt Gunn). Both over 2000m.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Fellow hikers enjoying the views from Conical Hill.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
I think this was Mt Tuhawaiki.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Hollyford Valley and the Darran Mountains.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Lake Harris looking quite blue after the sun came out.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Mt Xenicus (1912m).
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Looking south down the Hollyford Valley. The Routeburn Track continues on into the valley.

On the way back down the Routeburn now…

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Tarns and then a bit of Lake Harris.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
I love youse all! Or so says Lake Harris. The lake is actually shaped a bit like South America, but from this particular angle, and with the right framing, you can feel the love.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Fabulous colours after the sun came out. This clearing of the weather triggered a further photo taking binge on the way back. I’m a desperate addict driven by photo FoMO.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
A grand panorama of lake Harris.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Layers of mountains and spurs and the winding Routeburn as we returned down to Falls Hut.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Spear grass and cliffs.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Mountain Daisies
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Looking down the Routeburn Left Branch.

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill

Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
The Falls Huts and Routeburn Flats.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Beech forest at Falls Hut. Loved the colours.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
A grand view of Routeburn Flats and the Humbolt Mountains from an open section formed by a landslide.
Routeburn Track NZ: Routeburn Flats to Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
Looking down the Routeburn valley.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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