Embrace the Challenge of NZ’s Premier Mountain Run.
Let the mountains wrap their arms around you as you embrace New Zealand’s premier mountain run - the Kepler Challenge.
On the first Saturday in December every year, Te Anau is transformed as runners and their supporters descend on the charming lakeside town.
The weekend is a celebration of people’s personal challenges and what they do to get there.
Whether you’re an elite runner or a weekend warrior wanting to decompress, the Kepler Challenge calls your name.
There’s the 60km Kepler Challenge, taking in the entire Kepler Track, or the 27km Luxmore Grunt, for those who like it short and sharp.
The track explores the World Heritage Area Fiordland National Park, which has huge significance to the welcoming community, who live beneath the gaze of Mount Luxmore.
Likewise, the Challenge has huge significance to the track, with funds raised going to local charities, and helping maintain a network of predator traps.
From the start-line, runners ease into their work through stunning Red Beech, Kamahi, Rimu, Miro and yellow-flowering Kowhai forest near the shorelines of Lake Te Anau.
Next comes the ascent past towering limestone cliffs towards Mount Luxmore, set on a tussock-covered alpine ridgeline with spectacular views all around you.
The field and the forest thins out as you approach the alpine reaches. Runners find their natural rhythm and pace. This tussock top experience is a highlight of the race.
A sense of splendid isolation descends as you press on. Runners have only their thoughts for company, along with a team of dedicated locals manning aid stations in the mountains.
Soak up the 360-degree panoramic views while among the clouds, before winding your way down to picturesque, emerald-green Iris Burn.
The track meanders down the valley through pockets of lowland beech, in and out of clearings, through a gorge and onwards past Moturau Hut, beside the Waiau River and onwards to the glory of the finish line at the Te Anau Control Gates.
You’ll be spurred on by the many locals and supporters cheering as you tackle your final 10kms.
The after-match functions light up the town, Te Anau’s legendary hospitality in full swing,
This is followed by a Sunday breakfast, and the prize-giving.
The Kepler Challenge is all about the camaraderie of shared experience - conquering a Great Walk in one day - being welcomed and supported by a small Southland town and celebrating your achievement with newfound friends.
Bring the family. Bring some friends. You’ll want to check out the surrounding destinations while you are here. Explore more of the majestic Fiordland, take the road south to Western Southland to embrace the coastal lifestyle or immerse yourself in the rural scenery of Northern Southland.
So go on, embrace the challenge - Te Anau is waiting for you.
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