Mt Christina and Mt Crosscut from Key Summit, Fiordland
Key Summit is a great way for visitors to acquaint themselves with Fiordland National Park, being easily accessible whilst offering a superb perspective on one of New Zealands most rugged landscapes. Key Summit is so named because it is the key to three major catchments: the Hollyford, which flows north towards the Tasman Sea, the Eglinton, which reaches the South Island south coast via Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri and the Waiau River, and the Greenstone which is tributary to Lake Wakatipu and the mighty Clutha River that flows out to the Otago coast to the east.
The route up to Key Summit follows the lower part of the Routeburn Track from The Divide carpark, climbing gradually from about 500 metres above sea level to the summit at just over 900 metres. Along the way visitors are treated to an adundance of native birdlife while they climb from lowland beech forest through to subalpine shrublands, eventually breaking out above the treeline into an open expanse of alpine bogs with a scattering of small tarns. The summit offers a stunning panorama of glacial valleys and sheer peaks from the Ailsa Mountains to the east, to nearby Hollyford valley to the north, and, further around to the northwest, Mts Christina and Crosscut which tower above the deep valley containing Lake Marian.