The last two weeks have been all about hiking, or tramping as they call it here.
First the Kepler track, a nice warm up track. The Kepler is a ‘great walk’, meaning that it is a sort of state highway through nature. Boardwalks, ladders, steps, bridges and track workers that actually remove the stones from the track so that you won’t sprain your ankle. Still the Kepler was a nice and sometimes strenuous walk.
At the first hut (Luxmore hut) there was a cave to explore. Very nice.
The second day was the only overcast day of my hiking so far, but that did not detract from the beauty of some of the tracks. Walking across a ridge between two mountains, being accompanied by Kea birds (no photo of them sadly).
This trip had wetted my apetite for more hiking adventure. So I decided to do the more demanding Reese-Dart track. But not before spending a day or two in Queenstown doing absolutely nothing. Well, maybe appreciate the view from the backpackers, and play a few holes of frisbee golf with a stereotypical Japanese guy. Hilarious!
Next day consisted of more preparations, getting to the start of the track, and a small warm up hike. And then, finally I was of. And this time the track started like a real track. River crossings, marshes, following stone men for direction, clambering and in general requiring some level of walking experience to make it safe. But the scenery and views were beautiful!
The second day was the day I had to change my expectations. I was hoping to combine the trip to the next hut with a side trip to the Cascade saddle (a serious 8 hour side-trip), which incidentally was a plan concocted with a cute Israeli girl, but first I overslept and then my trusted Platipous turned on me and became a leaking liability. It took a few hours to dry my damp down sleeping bag, and killed any chance to make the side trip.
Drying stuff in the sun.
To make up for it, the trip introduced some of the best river sections I have ever encountered. Including the perfect stones to hop around on, and to sit on and soak in the power and turmoil of the water. Plus snow bridge as icing on the cake.
Picture rotated… will fix later.Oh, and I want a house with this view!
So I decided to prolong my trip by another day, and did the side trip to the Saddle the next day, together with Melanie, Brent, Tami and Leo who -by now- had become my travelling companions. We were headed the same way on the same time schedule. There were lots of people going slower/faster or the other direction. But the five of us kept meeting up at the viewpoints or the hut. And these companions made the trip thoroughly enjoyable.
Melanie, marine biologist and fellow boardgame maker
The last night I introduced them to “Koehandel”, which was another top hit. And this afternoon we arrived just in time to catch our ride back to civilisation. And now I’m properly knackered but well satisfied!