A Travellerspoint blog

Wanaka - Mt. Cook - Lake Tekapo

sunny 15 °C
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After walking best part of 100 miles, our legs were in need of rest and decided we would allow a rental car to take care of getting from A to B. We stopped over in Queenstown for two nights, watched over the jagged Remarkables Mountains and strolled around the streets taking in the sights. We weren't going to do any thrill seeking activities just yet!!! We jumped into the hire car and made our way through the beautiful old gold mining village of Arrowtown - it's autumn here and colours are so vivid! We drove through Wanaka for a quick lunch stop as we'll be visiting here again (a few times!) and admired the tranquil lake that the town sits next to.

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Queenstown

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Arrowtown

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Wanaka Lake

Our final destination was Mt Cook - Australasia's tallest at nearly 4000m. The accommodation here wasn't hard to choose, YHA or a 120 year old 5 star hotel - we'll leave that for another time! The peaks looked quite daunting yet we donned on our gear and decided to hike half way up Mt Olivier, Sir Edmund Hillary's first accomplished peak! We were entertained by avalanches on the distant glaciers and ever-looming Mt Cook. We also clambered along and across New Zealand's largest glacier (Tasman) before relaxing back at the hostel.

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Hiking up Mt. Olivier

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On Mt. Oliver with the Mueller Glacier behind us (Nic had just farted...)

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Tasman Lake at the end of the Tasman Glacier

We would spend the next night and day at Lake Tekapo which was just so relaxing. A quick visit to the observatory - this place is competing for the new UNESCO world heritage area for the skies! It's apparently one of the best places to check out the stars, very dark at night, however not clear enough when we were there...

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Exploring the observatory

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View of Lake Tekapo from our hostel

Posted by nicdavid 22:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Milford Sound

sunny 16 °C
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What better way to finish off the Milford Track than with a cruise?! We jumped aboard our boat and set off, heading towards the sea through Milford Sound.

We glided over the calm waters sailing by cascading waterfalls and sheer cliffs whilst passing 1692m high Mitre Peak. It was a beautiful end to our trip and we even got to see some New Zealand Fur Seals!

Posted by nicdavid 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Milford Track

all seasons in one day
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Day 1

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Day 2

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Unsure of the way....

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Day 3

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Nic enjoying the sunshine

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Getting ready to go over the tops!

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Day 4

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The end!

The Milford Track has been described at one of the finest walks in the world. It's heavily regulated by the DOC and at only 53.5km (33 miles) over four days makes it easily accessible to almost anyone willing to give it a go. Because of these reasons the track is often booked up months in advance and the huts are nearly always full. This was the most commercial and controlled hike we would complete.

We were following in the footstep of the Maori who used this route through the mountains to get to their precious greenstone. We caught a bus and a boat to get to the start of the track and got on with the first days hike - a tortorous one hour walk to the first hut! The second day was a little tougher and we began walking our way up through the valley, enjoying huge waterfalls and seeing the msit gently lift as the sun finally found it's way to us. Unlike the Kepler and Routburn which gets it's big hill section out of the way at the very beginning, the Milford's mountain doesn't come until the third day. This was a fantastic day, we immediately began our climb straight from the hut. Up, up we walked, into a huge mass of cloud. The wind was getting stronger and had a real bite to it and by the time we were near the summit we were quickly climbing into our waterproof gear and winter woolies. The scenery was very moody, ice covered the grass and rocks and a thick cloud blocked out any views there were to be had. After a very brief exploration of the summit we continued along the top, hoping Nic wouldn't get blown off before we reached the shelter for a quick cuppa. The descent was completely different. The cloud slowly cleared, the wind stopped and the sun came out - we got brilliant views of the surrounding snow capped peak as we made our way down into the valley. We dropped by Sutherland Falls, New Zealand's highest and the world's fifth highest waterfall at 580m. Our last day was spent walking out of the valley, past Mackay Falls and Bell Rock (a huge hollow boulder) and savoring the end of our Great Walks.

Posted by nicdavid 00:22 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Routeburn Track

all seasons in one day
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Day 1

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The beginning!

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Day 2

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View from thut hut, early morning

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Day 3

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The end!

Our legs were hurting after The Kepler, we relaxed for three days at our hostel in Te Anau and took full advantage of their great video collection! We needed that even though The Routeburn Track would be the shortest of the lot.

We realised now that we didn't need our mats, gas or stove, making our packs that little bit lighter. So, David (sorry..He-Man!) took some of Nic's stuff meaning she got to carry a day pack and save her knees. We caught a bus right to the other side of the track - four hours later we were at the beginning, waterproofed up and ready to pump our legs!

The Routeburn is the only link between two valleys and the next three days were spent going from one national park to the other. The views were fantastic! We got up to around 1500m and there was snow and ice on almost all of the surrounding peaks and occasionally ours - making for hard walking conditions on some genuinely challenging terrain. We could see the sea amongst the snow capped mountains and were threatened by rain and snow (they have around 7m of rain in this area annually!). There was a good combination of alpine and woodland walking and the second day was especially rewarding walking alongside gigantic mountains - whose heads were constantly covered by cloud.

We were glad about getting the long bus journey out of the way at the start of our walk, meaning we had a short 1hr trip back to the hostel. A perfect walk with fantastic valley walking, alpine traversing and mysterious woodland. A descent 35km (22mile) tramp!

Posted by nicdavid 00:13 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kepler Track

sunny
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Day 1

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The beginning

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A quick stop...

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View from the hut 1st night

Day 2

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Day 3

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We know how to spoil ourselves....

Day 4

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View from the hut

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The end

The Kepler Track is 70km (44miles) long over 4 days of walking. The difference with this one compared to the others is that this is designed by the bionic people that are the Department of Conservations (DOC). The other two walks we would complete are old mining routes taking a more direct route from A to B - the Kepler is purposely made difficult! With around 2000m of overall ascent and descent our muscles were in for a whipping.

We reached our first hut with fantastic views, the hut was also brilliant. These babies have gas stoves, flushing toilets and sleeping mats all provided (we wouldn't need a poo stick for this walk). The second day is what the Kepler is all about - high, exposed, alpine views! The track narrows down in a few spots to just a couple of feet wide - not forgetting the tumble you would make either side of this. Nic's knees were quite painful after descending a few hundred metres. David did the gentlemanly thing and carried both packs - he now goes by the name of He-Man (the power of greyskull). After waving goodbye to the jagged peaks we were amongst bush again. The last two days were spent walking over waves of hills with a kaleidoscope of colours from the trees and moss. We reached the lazy persons exit (where many people exited the track and caught a bus!). We carried on - right to end! Probably the best walk we have ever done....so far......

Posted by nicdavid 00:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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