Moment of awesome
One of the main reasons for me to visit New Zealand was to do one of the ‘Great Walks’. Pretty soon after entering the country, however, the Department of Conservation told me the huts for all tracks had been booked months in advance – there was basically no chance for me to stay overnight. I thought I’d have no shot at doing a Great Walk until I met two Israeli girls on our campsite this week. They invited me to do the Routeburn Track with them. This track is a one-way hike from the Milford Sound area to Lake Wakatipu. The two girls had arranged to have friends drive their car to the other side so we’d have transportation when we finished. Upon being invited I found myself scrambling to prepare for my 20 mile, 11 hour hike the next day. The views were stunning! I was in awe of nature’s beauty from the start in the valley, to the waterfall, along the mountain ridge, on the lake by the hut (both at the lake and above), to the native flora. The jaw dropping ended with this view on our final descent. IT WAS AWESOME!
Read more about this week’s adventures. Read More
We started our week at Lake Hauroko. We ended up hiking around the lake one day later than planned due to bad weather. From the top of the nearby hilltop we had a spectacular view on the lake and the surrounding area. The mountains were not very steep but rather an ocean of evergreen-topped, glowing waves. For a 2,5h return walk it was quite a rewarding one!
Our next stop was Te Anau, a 2-hour drive north from Lake Hauroko. Te Anau is the gateway to both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound – two gorgeous Fiords on the Southwest part of the South Island. We decided not to go to Doubtful Sound as it was a lot more expensive than Milford Sound, plus the landscape was very akin to what we had seen at Lake Hauroko. From Te Anau we drove 1 hour north to stop at a campsite to stay for the night. After a freezing night (no kidding, there was ice on the windshield) we headed to Milford Sound for our 9am boat tour. I was happy to have a good set of lungs because the views were breathtaking. The boat took us along the steep cliffs, into an actual waterfall, and even out to sea. Seals and penguins added to the astonishing scenery I had never been exposed to. What a trip! And at 30 US$ for 2 hours, not a bad deal at all.
After our boat tour we returned to our new campsite that had a shower – my first in about a week. I even managed to do some laundry before my big hike the next day (as described above). Needless to say I was pretty exhausted after having hiked for 11 hours straight. Luckily, my travel buddies Jop and Nienke had set up my tent at a campsite in Queenstown – I am still very grateful for that. After a well-deserved (if I say so myself) box of fish and chips I hit the sack for an epic sleep marathon.
Yesterday we arrived in Wanaka, a small town on yet another astonishingly beautiful lake. Despite it being only a 45-minute drive from Queenstown, the scenery is quite different. The hills are not as steep, and it seems to be a lot drier here. Yet, for those who enjoy the occasional hallucinogen the rock formations provide a good source of creativity. It amazes me how vastly different and varied the landscape has been. It is unlike any country I have ever been and each landscape change is literally a one-hour drive away. It you love nature you have to visit this country before you die!
Our plan is to continue to Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, Akaroa, and end up in Christchurch from where I will fly back to Auckland. Admittedly, I’m looking forward to being in one place for a while as backpacking and constantly moving from place to place is getting a bit tiring. Yet, I have no reason to complain.
View on the Milford Sound boat cruise (this picture has not been photoshopped).
Food for the hungry soul
An interesting collection of accounts from people living on one of the most contested borders in the world. My favorite quote is from an 18-year old Mexican boy who said, “this guy is supposed to be a billionaire, right?” he asked. “Why the hell can’t he pay for it himself, then? He’s the one who wants it.”
A word of wisdom
“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.”
Robert Lee Frost – American Poet
Dash for cash