New Zealand 2008

2008 Tramping Holiday

There are a lot of tracks around the Te Anau and Queenstown area (Fiordland) including three of the eight “Great Walks” (The Milford, the Routeburn, and the Kepler Tracks).

I kept really good records of food, calories, expenses, and pack weights which makes for an interesting read – Hiking checklists.xlsx

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The Routeburn Track was stunning.
We had never seen anything like it, we were unfit and carrying stupid weight (such as 4litres of water), but the surroundings blew us away. There were more people then I expected, but one you started on the track you only passed a dozen or so people. It was an excellent first walk, stunning and the huts were very comfortable.

We arrived at the start of the track straight from Australia, the only sleep we had had was a couple of hours curled up on the airport floor with about twenty other backpackers all waiting for connecting flights. We were so confident, and then an hour into the hike it seemed like an impossible task. I am so glad we opted for the closer of the huts. It meant further on the second day, but we were a bit more mentally prepared by then.

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The Hollyford Track was isolated.
We saw 5 people in that six days that we were on the track. It was a different walk, along a river rather than alpine. The track was rough, muddy, rocky, there were branches to crawl under and objects to scale, lots of stream crossing ensuring wet boots. The Routeburn track seemed soft compared to this (The Routeburn Track had little bridges over everything).

One section of the track, called the Demon Trail is a 6hour hike up and down rocky stream beds, most with water flowing – the path was not beside the stream, or crossing the stream, the path was the stream. It was so hard, yet it is the part of the hike that I remember with most fondness.

There was something special about this track, it meant that we weren’t tourists, it meant we had seen something so amazing that most people never got to see, in a place that few people came.

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The Kepler Track was busy.
The first day I felt anger at the amount of people that seemed to be intruding on our serentiy. I counted 60 people on that first day. This track was not peaceful or quiet, or particular pretty. Large amounts of the walk were spent overtaking people, or hurrying up to avoid being overtaken. Trying to find a patch of the track that had nobody else on it was difficult, and stopping to look around meant encountering even more people (and then having to overtake them again later). I supposed the positive of this was that the huts were very social.

The first leg of the Kepler is a grueling 6hour hike straight up, it is steep and it does not let up, not a single step was on flat ground. We pushed ourselves and it hurt but we had this amazing moment of elation as we pushed above the treeline and realised we were an hour ahead of schedule.

One thought on “New Zealand 2008”

  1. Thanks for the review of the tracks and thanks for the spreadsheet; we living in Christchurch for two years 2011-2013 but I never got around to doing any of the Great Walks. I’m keen to go back but haven’t decided which one I’d do. Thanks to your review I’ve dropped Kepler off my Top 3.

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