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Control Gates to Rainbow Reach Walk – Kepler Track

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The walk from the Control Gates to Rainbow Reach Bridge is on the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s great walks. Instead of following the lakeshore, take the path that follows the Waiau River south. While the walk has some slight gains and descents in elevation, it is mostly flat and walks through lush green bush. This difference in elevation allows you to walk alongside the river and, at other times, stand closer to the tops of the tall red beech trees. Most of the time, you will have to crane your neck to see the top, but this walk takes you just a little higher up every so often where the forest floor is slanted. 

There are a couple of wooden bridges on part of the Kepler Track that pass over streams flowing down the mountain, but the most interesting bridge is definitely Rainbow Reach Bridge at the end of the walk. It is a swing bridge over the Waiau River. The bridge is elevated about 5 or 6 meters above the river. The quality and clearness of the water is incredible. Standing on the bridge on a clear day, you will be able to see the mountains to the south. There is a car park at Rainbow Reach Bridge so you could do the walk the other way. 

While you’re in Te Anau, make sure you take a day trip out to Milford Sound. Or take a once in a lifetime scenic flight over Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. which leaves right from the waterfront in Te Anau.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand
        • Time needed: 2.5 hour walk
        • Distance: 9.5 km
        • Difficulty: Medium
        • Bikes allowed: No
        • Route: One way
        • Elevation: None
        • Wet Feet: Yes, after snow, heavy rain or when walking too close to the river.
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: Mostly no, until you get a lot closer to Te Anau
        • Last Updated: May, 2020
  • Track Highlights

    This is mostly a forest walk with a few lookouts over the river along the way. The view from Rainbow Reach Bridge overlooks the crystal clear water of the Waiau river and mountains in the distance.

  • Track Quality

    The track is gravelled and has wooden pathways and bridges and is in excellent condition. The track is maintained and cared for by the Department of Conservation.

  • Hazards

    Winter snow and cold

  • Transport

    There is a local taxi service out to Rainbow Reach Bridge car park if you only want to walk one way. Te Anau is a stop on InterCity bus’ itinerary. Te Anau is quite small and most places, including the Visitor Centre, are accessible on foot.

  • Water


  • Driving Instructions

    From Te Anau, follow the Manapouri – Te Anau Highway and turn right onto Golf Course Road. Turn right once more into the Kepler car park which is clearly indicated.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    The closest shops and restaurants are in central Te Anau.

  • Area & Track History

    The town of Te Anau was established shortly after the Milford Track opened. It is a common place to stop for a few days for tours through Milford Sound and as a stepping stone to the rest of the Fiordland.

    The walk from the Control Gates to Rainbow Reach bridge is the southern start of the Kepler Track. The Kepler track is a 65km track that opened in  February 1988.

  • Camping & huts on or near the walk

    No camping on this walk

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

Map of Control Gates to Rainbow Reach Walk

Here is the map for Control Gates to Rainbow Reach Walk showing it’s location in New Zealand. You can change the view on the map to satellite if you prefer to see an image of where the walk is instead.

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Rainbow Reach Kepler Track, Te Anau, New Zealand

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