It’s been an exciting week or so since we last updated this thing. We are officially in month three of the New Zealand adventure and we kicked the month off right with two of the Great Walks, the Routeburn and the Milford tracks. The journey began Saturday night as we bade a hearty farewell to civilization and enjoyed the best of Queenstown with Soulsystem (best reggae/Dub so far) at the Dux de Lux (best beer by far). The following morning was a beautiful, if a bit hung-over, first day on the Routeburn. We managed three sunny and rain-free days hiking, an occurrence unheard of in these parts.
Despite the lack of rain there were some beautiful waterfalls. We stopped to have lunch at the Earland Falls
From the top of the pass you could see all the way out to the Tasman Sea
All of the great walks are immaculately maintained, some sections looked better than most Forest Service roads, there were even toilets set in scenic locations every few miles
Leave it to the Kiwis to make sure that there are clean public loos just about everywhere. On the last day of the Routeburn we made it up to Key Summit for sunrise
which was probably my favorite part of the tramp despite the cold.
That afternoon we made it to The Divide (end of the tramp) by 10 am and had hitched a ride into Te Anua by 1 (sorry moms, but it really is safe here.)
We spent a day or two in town doing laundry and internet. Ev found out he has a Washington State Dept. of Ecology job interview all lined up so good news there! We got our hut tickets and bus to the boat all lined up and that Friday we headed out on the Milford.
Is was a beautiful first day, clear skies, warm sun, and a nice easy walk to the first hut. The second day was much the same, although we were told to expect rain in the afternoon it managed to hold out until later in the evening when everyone had made it to the second hut. About 6pm that evening the rain began, and then kept going… 630ml and 48 hours later it was still going strong and we were still stuck at the second hut as the ENTIRE track was closed.
Even if we had felt like braving the rain, the 120 km/hr wind up on the pass was a bit of a deterrent. The formerly barren rock face facing the hut quickly became covered in roaring waterfalls
After an extra day and a half at hut #2 (and about a million games of cards) the decision was made to airlift everyone on the track one hut further along with hopes that the next day would be nice enough to walk out. So we got NZ chopper ride number two up and over the pass (with stunning views of the McKinnon memorial, Sutherland falls, and the waterfalls/rivers that used to be the Milford Track) and got dropped right in front of hut #3
It stormed that night, thunder and all, and we were all pretty sure we’d be catching another chopper out the following morning. However when we woke up the storm had passed, the wind had quieted down and we were told the track was open. Besides a bit of rain in the morning it turned out to be an amazing day, all of the waterfalls were still gushing water, and the boat ride through the Milford sound at the end of the track was the perfect end.
For the moment we are back in Kinloch, now with a campervan, taking care of laundry and getting ready for the next adventure. More soon…
Nicole and Ev