Perhaps one of the prettiest tracks and huts in Southern Fiordland the Green lake circuit offers a relatively easy two day trip with stunning alpine scenery.
This circuit can be walked from either direction but a vehicle is required if you wish to avoid a long road walk. If you intend to walk the entire circuit including the road it is suggested that you start and finish at the Borland lodge carpark. This divides the time/distances more evenly.
Otherwise begin at the signposted track entrance on the Monowai road about 200 meters before the boat ramp at lake Monowai. It is strongly suggested to have dropped either a vehicle or a bicycle at the Borland biv or the Borland Saddle which can be found by driving up the Borland road past the Borland lodge. This is a gravel road that can be quite rough at times and is subject to slips and snowfall.
The track from lake Monowai takes a gentle route through lush beech forest terraces before climbing steadily to the pass through to Green lake. While never very steep this is a consistent climb. The pass is reached in about 4-5 hours and Green lake hut is a further hour along a descending narrow track that sidles across a steep hillside above the lake.
Green lake Hut at 827m ASL is located in idyllic surroundings on the lake shore near the edge of a large clearing of tall red tussock. It is a relatively new hut and receives a steady flow of visitors over the summer months. However, in the winter very few people venture here. This is mainly because the Borland road is closed in winter months and snow can lie quite deep at times.
Crested Grebe, a type of water fowl can be seen on the lake. The nearby Grebe river gets is name from these birds which are not commonly seen elsewhere in NZ.
From Green lake the track meanders over a low saddle and across several large tussock covered clearings to the Borland road taking about 3 hours. The large clearings are silted up shallow lakes formed by the Green lake slip one of New Zealand’s largest ever landslides. The Tussock is waist high and if frozen or wet can be quite trying but is still a beautiful sight none the less. If the day is hot and sunny take the time to sit or lie down in the tussock and soak up the wonderful warmth and peculiar sound of tall tussock in the breeze.
Part way along this track is the turn off to Clarkes hut and Monowai hut at the head of Lake Monowai which if you have arranged boat transport can be another great circuit. The Historic Clarks hut is near the modern one and is a worthwhile deviation.
The Borland Biv is located right on the road edge where the track emerges and provides a life saving shelter if the weather is bad or you get caught on the western side of the Borland saddle by snow or slips. It is a very basic shelter with no facilities.
If walked in the winter months you face a long walk down the road (after gaining the summit of the saddle) to Borland Lodge and then a further hour and a half across Burnt ridge to the car park at Monowai. The Burnt Ridge track begins in the grounds of Borland lodge and can be found behind the lodge.
If you have the necessary skills and equipment a high snow route can be taken along the ridge toward Mt Burns from the pass between Monowai and Green lake and down to the Borland saddle but should only be attempted by those with alpine skills and experience.