Once again please excuse our absenteeism from the digital universe. For the past few weeks we’ve been traveling the west coast of the south island and have been out in nature exploring the amazing scenery.
I’m sure it sounds redundant by now but the natural beauty of New Zealand is remarkable. As we have ventured south the scenery seems to grow more expansive and impressive as the kilometers go by.
Over the past 2-3 weeks we’ve hiked, tramped, trekked, and backpacked to the point where we now are tending to blisters on our feet. Our dogs are barking loud and clear.
Here is a taste of what we’ve seen from north to south:
Starting out in Golden Bay we drove west and hiked into to Wharariki Beach where the wind was fierce. However, overcoming the natural elements had its rewards as we were treated to a close-up view of a family of seals lounging about the rocks while the younger pups played in a pool.
Just north of Karamea we hiked a couple hours into the Heaphy track which is tucked in between the rugged beaches and dense rain forest.
Later that afternoon we drove into the beautiful Oparara Basin where we hiked into to view a limestone arch that has been carved out by a small river over the past 35 million years.
A couple days later we hiked on the Cape Foulwind coastal walkway where the air was still and the sun was warm.
At Paparoa National Park we saw the famous pancake rocks and blowholes but also did an inland hike up over the hills and even forded the Porari River.
At Franz Josef we did a challenging 6.5 hour return hike up to Alex Knob above the clouds and above the buzzing helicopters where we were greeted with a beautiful day and view of the amazing glacier & the Tasman Sea. It’s a amazing that the a glacier and ocean can coexist in such proximity.
Further south we stayed a couple days in Wanaka. From here we drove into Mt. Aspiring National Park via the beautiful Matukituki Valley and walked back to view the Rob Roy Glacier. Our timing was lucky because as soon as we arrived we witnessed an avalanche which was spectacular!
After staying in Arrowtown a night (just outside of Queenstown) we drove into the southern end of Mt. Aspiring National Park via the scenic Lake Wakatipu & Glenorchy. From here we did an overnight trip on the Routeburn Trek. Part of this area was used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies. The first afternoon we walked into Routeburn flats and set up camp. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever camped.
The next morning we were on the track by 9AM and arrived on top of Conacil Hill at a quarter past noon. The views here were amazing. We could see up the Hollyford Valley all the way to the Tasman Sea approximately 20 miles away! We definitely earned our dinner that day after hiking for 8 hours!
Last week we took 4 days and did the Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park which begins at the southern tip of Lake Te Anau. From here we walked west and north and ascended past the tree line into the Kepler Mountains on our first day finishing at the Luxmore Hut. On the second day we hiked up the last 400 meters to the summit of Mt. Luxmore and then continued west along a ridge with amazing views of the South Fiord and surrounding mountains. After 3 hours we reached another lookout point and began hiking south for the Iris Burn hut tucked down in a valley below the tree line. On our third day we began our walk back toward Te Anau walking in a forested region along the Iris Burn river. Our last night was spent in the Moturau Hut on the banks of Lake Manapouri. From here we hiked out in the rain and were back to civilization.
Even though we’ve been extremely active in the past few weeks we’ve really only braised the surface in terms of areas to explore. The Fiordland & Mt. Aspiring National Parks are amazingly beautiful. Both Tina and I wish we’d have more time to immerse ourselves in these areas. I guess that will be our excuse for coming back in future years.