Kiwi Burn Hut: Easy family friendly tramp in Fiordland

Kiwi Burn Hut


Kiwi Burn Hut is a great beginners hut for new trampers or families with kids.   It’s a beautiful forest track in the Snowden Forest Conservation Area of Southland, not far from Te Anau.  It’s in the southern part of the South Island of New Zealand, a beautiful part of the country.

Or for experienced trampers, it’s just a great easy walk you could knock off in a half day.

Why walk this track?

It’s a beautiful stroll through the forest, with some little stream crossings and a great place to stretch the legs.  It’s ideal for families with kids and beginner trampers who are looking for their first overnight hike who want something manageable without any hills.

We met some hunters who use Kiwi Burn hut as a base to head up into the bush to hunt for stag and there were a number of day walkers doing the loop and stopping in for lunch at the hut.

As it’s an easy trail, I would say weekends and school holidays this track would be on the busier side.

3 kids give big smiles in the native bush on their way to Kiwi Burn Hut in Fiordland
Forest track to Kiwi Burn Hut, Fiordland

Where is Kiwi Burn Hut?


Kiwi Burn Hut is located in the Mavora Lakes region of Fiordland.  Mavora Lakes Road on which the car park is situated is a long gravel road of around 30km.  The turnoff to this road is about 20 minutes from Te Anau and 1 hour 50 minutes from Queenstown.  It will take around 20-30 minutes to drive down the gravel road, depending on your speed and vehicle.

While it is a gravel road with a few good potholes, I happily drove a car on a dry day.  The road is pretty flat so I wouldn’t see the need to have a 4WD.  Caravans and campervans regularly head up to camp at the Mavora Lakes so you will be fine.

The google maps reference for Kiwi Burn carpark is correct.  It will be on the left hand side just before you reach the Mavora Lakes, and it’s well signposted.  You head down a little farm 4wd track for a minute or two and park in the paddock area.  It’s easy to find.

4 year old Emilia walks with her arms out for balance, crosses a stream by walking on a log
Lots of little stream crossing on the way to Kiwi Burn Hut, NZ

How long does it take to reach Kiwi Burn Hut?


The Kiwi Burn track is a loop track.  So from the swing bridge where you start, you have two options.  Head left for a 90 minute walk to Kiwi Burn Hut, or straight ahead for a 2 hour 30 minute walk.

We chose the 90 minute walk in, which took us a bit over as we tried to negotiate the last stream in the clearing right before the hut.  We tried not to get out feet wet but oh well…

We didn’t take the longer track, but one thing we noticed on the signpost was that the Department of Conservation has classified the shorter trail as a “track” and the longer one as a “route”.

What does this mean?  Well the route may require more skills and it’s likely to be just marker poles and a trodden trail may not be clear.  Routes are usually recommended for more advanced trampers.  I didn’t take this trail so cannot comment, but if you are a beginner, then definitely go with the shorter track just to keep yourself safe.

Mother and three kids walk in the clearing close to Kiwi Burn Hut
In the clearing, with Kiwi Burn Hut hidden in the bushes behind us

What is the Kiwi Burn Track like?


The Kiwi Burn Track starts at the incredible swingbridge over the Mararoa River.  The water running below is swift and the bridge has a 1 person maximum.  It’s not dangerous but it will make any parent double check as they send the kids off one by one.

At this point, you can turn left for the shorter 1.5 hour track or straight ahead for the 2 hour route which both end up at Kiwi Burn Hut.

We chose the shorter route that ran alongside the river.  Through the beech forest we walked, the trail flat and easy for the kids who hopped over fallen branches and crossed the little streams with ease.  This made it quite fun.

Near the end of the track you will come to a huge clearing where you will have to cross the Kiwi Burn River.  The kids got wet feet as it was a bit more than ankle deep, me on the other hand was thankful for waterproof boots.  It is the biggest of the “river” crossings.

From here it’s only about 10 minutes until you reach Kiwi Burn Hut and you are rewarded with a rest.

Two children look at the wide stream, finding a way to cross in the open clearing, almost at Kiwi Burn Hut
The biggest stream to cross, right before Kiwi Burn Hut, Mavora Lakes region

How hard is the Kiwi Burn track?


This was a great easy walk.  The trail was practically flat with only a few minor undulations.  Our kids who have tramped a lot found it very easy.  It follows along the Mararoa River for a long w

There are lots of tree roots, sticks and rocks to negotiate, it’s not a city garden trail, but it is very easy as far as tramping tracks are concerned.

There are a number of stream crossings which had logs and rocks you could climb on to keep your feet dry.  You will note a bigger stream in a clearing, right before the hut and we did get our feet a bit wet in here.  The boys were ankle deep, but my waterproof boots kept me well sorted

Kids sit at the wooden table while eating their lunch at Kiwi Burn Hut
Dining area at Kiwi Burn Hut
6 single bunks in Kiwi Burn Hut
2 x 6 bunk rooms
Dining and kitchen in Kiwi Burn Hut. Laundry is hanging on a rope above the log burner
Dining area in Kiwi Burn Hut
View of the white wooden Kiwi Burn Hut building nestled at the edge of the forest as two children run towards the hut
Welcome to Kiwi Burn Hut

What is Kiwi Burn Hut like?


Kiwi Burn Hut is the cutest little 12 bed hut.  It has two 6-bunk bedrooms, separate by a ktichen and dining area.  It is ideal for two families so bring your friends along as well.

The bunkrooms have single bunks, so no one is sleeping directly next to anyone.  I do find that great for kids to have their own separate spaces.  

For those people who haven’t been to other huts, some have big sleeping platforms, so there could be 6-10 mattresses all next to each other and you may sleep next to a stranger.

Inside the hut you will find

  • A pot belly fire
  • Sink with tap (boil water recommended)
  • Cupboards to store your gear in the kitchen
  • Big map of the region
  • Stainless steel topped dining table and wooden benches
  • Deck on the front of the hut
You’ll need to bring your own food and gas cooker along if you are staying overnight.  Our kids love Back Country Meals, as you can just add water and its ready in about 15 minutes
3 kids walk through the bright green native forest on their way to Kiwi Burn Hut Mavora Lakes

How much does it cost to stay at Kiwi Burn Hut?


As at 1 July 2023

  • Adults cost $10 per night
  • Kids 5-17 years old – $5 per night
  • Kids under 5 are free


Bookings are not required, it’s a first come, first served.  You can pay with a blue standard hut ticket or a backcountry hut pass (ideal if you are doing a number of hut trips over the year)  You can find more about booking on the Department of Conversation website.

Backyard Travel Family sit on the decking outside Kiwi Burn Hut and smile for the camera

Guide to the Mavora Lakes


Want to hang out more in the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park, here’s what you can do


Camping at Mavora Lakes


The Mavora Lakes campsite is spread over a large area and is huge.  There are a few places you can park up with your caravan or campervan under the trees at the South Mavora Lakes, but if you have a tent, there’s better space (where you won’t get clonked in the head by falling debris from the trees) at the North Mavora Lakes Campsite.

At the North Mavora Lakes campsite there is a huge expanse of land.  There are clear areas where you are not allowed to park, but looks like everything else is fair game.  In general, they don’t want you to drive your vehicles out into the tussocky grass, so leave them close to the gravel roads, and walk your tent to those spots if needed.

This is a popular lakeside spot in the summer and the DOC website can register 1000 campers.  There’s no reception up at the Mavora Lakes, just pay your camping fee online before you go.  Then you just pick your camping spot when you arrive




Watersports at Mavora Lakes


Motorised watercraft are allowed on North Mavora Lake, but not at South Mavora.  So if you’re looking for some more idyllic paddle boarding or kayaking, then South may be a good option.

It’s a popular spot for holiday goers to bring their boats, jetskis and have a blat on the lake.




More walks at the Mavora Lakes


There are some more trails at the Mavora Lakes if you’re up for a walk, or you can even mountain bike out there as well  

Here are a few options

    • Walk or bike to Carys Hut (about 10km and 2 hours walking)
    • Or heading from Carys Hut to Boundary Hut (another 2 hours walking and 6km)
    • You can also walk from the Mavora Lakes campsite all the way down to Kiwi Burn Hut too which takes about 4 hours one way
Nathan from Backyard Travel Family viewing the crystal clear water at the start of the Lake Marian Track. A great walk to the Marian Falls, crossing the swingbridge. A lovely short walk with kids
The start of the Lake Marian Track


Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 9 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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