TUATAPERE DAY WALKS 2-4 Jan|
The river walk in the township was investigated by Barbara and
Hua on 2nd and 3rd. Some difficulty in following the map, but on Jan 4th, a group of 9 other trampers
who had returned from Green Lake joined us for the whole scenic circuit. The Waiau River trail led through
a decorated gravel path, crossed the main road and entered the riverside bush before crossing the bridge
to the larger circuit which led a distance to the domain and through some bush with NZ Mistletoe and
GREEN LAKE 2-3 Jan
Our group of 8 tramped to Green Lake Hut through open
tussock and bush with stream crossings to tackle. The hut sits beside the lake and is accessed by a boardwalk.
Next day we returned along the lake foreshore before going through bush and open pasture.
ARM HUT 6-7 Jan
Our water taxi, a small dinghy, took us across the Waiau River, to the track
start. A mostly level track followed a path carpeted with beech tree leaves and trimmed with spongy moss.
Once on the lakeside, we could access beaches with a great view, and enjoy morning tea.
track veered inland, and short boardwalks often ended in a boggy mud patch. Fallen trees forced us to
stretch over or track around. The widest creek had a ‘tree crossing’ that proved tricky and Sonia managed
to slip in and emerged very wet! After our meal we relaxed at the beach until the sandflies drove us
inside. Sonia shared a devotion and Don read us a chapter of his Narnia story.
On the return
trip Don kindly transferred every pack across the tricky log crossing, we made it to a beach for lunch,
and surprised Mike, the water taxi driver, by calling him for a pick up at 2pm
TRACK 6-8 Jan
14 people led by Murray Black had a great experience on the Humpridge Track
west of Tuatapere. On the first day we set out along Te Waewae Bay and along a boardwalk through bus
for a break at Water Bridge lunch shelter. We went on to Stag Point and climbed up through bush to open
mountaintops with spectacular rock formations and tarns. Our first night was at Okaka Lodge, and next
morning we set out along a boardwalk on open subalpine vegetation in the mist. Our lunch break was at
Luncheon Rock Shelter, and then we began our descent through forest to the Edwin Burn Viaduct. Passing
the Percy Burn Hut we carried on to the Port Craig Lodge, and explored the remains of the Port Craig
Village including an old red NZ Post Office mail box and remains of old buildings. Our final day’s tramping
was along the coast taking in Blowholes Beach, Flat Creek and a long sandy beach before a final climb
to the finish. A dinner of bangers and mash at a restaurant in Tuatapere made a great climax item for
this three-day footwork concert.
ROUTEBURN TRACK 6-8 Jan
Thursday 8 January:
The Divide to Lake MacKenzie Hut (12 km)
While Phillip had done the track before, this was the
first time the others had attempted it. Having thought that would be camping at Lake MacKenzie, we were
fortunate (on the day prior) to secure four places in the hut through a last-minute cancellation. This
meant we did not have to carry a tent or stoves, greatly lightening our burdens.
The weather was
overcast as we were dropped off at The Divide around 8.30 a.m. The Divide, at 532m, is the lowest crossing
of the Southern Alps. After final preparations at the expansive and deserted shelter, we climbed gradually
for just over an hour before we came to the turnoff to Key Summit. Some discussion ensued, the end result
being that we decided to go up. However, we were disappointed insofar as it was wet, windy and fog-bound.
A few quick pics preceded our rapid descent back to the turnoff and the shelter of the forest. We carried
on down to the site of the former Howden Hut and were greeted by some friendly track maintenance workers.
This end of the Routeburn Track suffered extensive damage in the February 2020 storm and had only
just been re-opened. It was evident that a huge amount of debris had been cleared, bridges replaced,
and sections of track re-routed. Because of this, the track was uneven underfoot in places, and also
quite narrow. Adequate safety railings and barriers were not yet in place, requiring care.
continued on towards Earland Falls (174m), which were embellished by the rain and quite a highlight.
Unfortunately, shortly after one of the bridges over a small gorge, Diana rolled her ankle and fell over
a bank onto her back. Two small trees prevented her from falling further. After a pause and a few pills,
we were relieved that she was able to continue.
The trail down to MacKenzie Hut was quite rocky
and steep. After traversing "The Orchard" (an open grassy area dotted with ribbonwood trees), we eventually
arrived. The hut had two separate bunkrooms and was full of walkers of all ages. The ranger’s evening
talk revealed that he was very passionate about the pest-control programme he had been conducting in
the vicinity over some years, relying on public donations. Our evening reflection explored the biblical
analogy of our earthly bodies as temporary "tents" and life as "camping with God" until such time as
our tents are no longer needed (2 Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 Peter 1:13).
Friday 9 January (Lake MacKenzie
Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut (11.3km)
Diana consulted the ranger about her ankle injury. He felt
she should try to continue walking, but if it became too much (within an hour or so) should return to
the hut. Strapped and medicated, she decided to press on.
Again it was cloudy, but not raining.
As we ascended a series of zig-zags above Lake MacKenzie, a helicopter buzzed over Emily Pass and down
the valley several times, dropping off supplies to the commercial hut. After a couple of hours we finally
reached the vantage point at the beginning of the trail along the Hollyford valley face.
was coping with her sore ankle. Although it was cloudy, we did get some views of the Darran Mountains
and the valley below us. Our lunch-stop was at the Harris Saddle shelter, but the conditions meant it
was not worthwhile to do the side-trip up Conical Hill.
The sidle above Lake Harris was very picturesque.
We dropped down through glacial debris, pausing for a brief reflection about nature as the "house of
God" – the description used by Jacob at Bethel after his dream of a stairway between earth and heaven
We wound our way down a final steep and slippery section. over bare rock faces,
beside the thundering Routeburn Falls, to the hut, arriving about mid-afternoon.
cubicles were quite dark and stark, but the communal room was more inviting. The ranger warned us not
to leave any food or gear outside because of the marauding keas. Low cloud precluded any expansive views
above or below.
Saturday 10 January (Routeburn Falls Hut to Routeburn Shelter (9.8km)
woke to low cloud, but by the time we had descended through pristine beech forest to Routeburn Flats
Hut (1 hour), it had lifted and bright sunshine had broken through. We paused at the hut to enjoy the
open grassy flats. Our morning reflection focused on nature as a source of healing for body, soul and
spirit, and the fact that Jesus often went into the wilderness for such a purpose (Luke 5:16).
down. The well-formed track hugged the contours above Routeburn Gorge before picking up the old bridal
path (dating from the 1870s) to Bridal Veil Stream and the final swing-bridge to the terminus. We had
barely finished our lunch, basking in the warmth, before the shuttle arrived to take us to the hostel
Although we would have liked better weather, we were all pleased to have completed
our trek, especially Diana who soldiered on very stoically to reach her goal. Congratulations!
TE ANAU DAY WALKS 8-11 Jan
Jan 8: Some took a trip to Milford Sound in Peter’s car, exploring
walks on the way.
Jan 9 there were 7 taking the trip to Doubtful Sound.
Jan 10 Murray led a group
from Rainbow Reach to the Moturau Hut on the Kepler track. Others visited the Bird Sanctuary seeing
Takahe parents & chicks, also seeing the Morepork, parakeets, Kaka and Blue Ducks (Whio). A number attended
the Anglican or Presbyterian Church Services. In the evening Barbara shared a few thoughts on New Beginnings
from the Anglican service. Phillip shared some miracles experienced on his Routeburn trip. (Available
hut beds at the last minute, one member’s fall that could have been more serious- saved by trees in the
Jan 11 Murray and Kim took a water taxi to Brod Bay and climbed to Luxmore Hut to enjoy
great views! (Kepler Track).
OTHER TOURIST TRIPS on rest days at TE Anau.
Cruise. Groups of 7 and 10 enjoyed the Day Cruise on Jan 9/ 15th. Three ladies also did the overnight
cruise 9-10 Jan. A scenic crossing of Lake Manapouri, coach trip over the Wilmot Pass and a cruise from
Deep Cove to the open sea, to view the seal colony at the entrance. A stop with no engines running,
enabled us to hear the bird song and the wind in the peaks.
Mt Moraine. On 15th four of us took a
helicopter trip to Mt Moraine, flew over the Kepler track and Luxmore Hut. Great views of the Kepler
and Lake Te Anau from the air in perfect weather!
Milford Sound: By private car (6) and on tour vans
(3 & 4 on Jan 10/11th). Tour vans stopped at the Hollyford Road for a 30 min walk up the Marian Lake
track to a rushing waterfall, Mirror Lakes, Lake Gunn before entering the Homer Tunnel and reaching Milford
Sound. Cruises out to the open sea passed by a seal colony, Stirling Falls and Bowen Falls.
trip to Glow worm caves – west Arm of Te Anau. Two groups Jan 12 & 13.
GEORGE SOUND 11-13
A favourable forecast of good weather for 3 days gave us the green light to undertake this
challenging tramp. It is classified as a route for experienced, well-equipped trampers with good levels
of fitness. The route traverses exceptionally rugged country carved by deep glaciers, leaving behind
U-shaped valleys, hanging side valleys, horned peaks, and high basins filled with lakes. It traverses
two major valley systems and crosses one mountain range. Starting at George Sound, it follows Katherine
Creek to its headwaters, climbs over Henry Pass, descends down the Wapiti valley to Lake Thomson, and
on to Lake Hankinson. Potential hazards which could result in serious injury, are numerous and require
careful assessment and constant vigilance.
Tuesday 11 January (George Sound Hut to base of Henry
Our floatplane flight with Wings and Water took off from the lakefront at Te Anau at 10.15a.m.
and landed us at the head of George Sound around 10.45a.m. The plane banked sharply as it came in to
land on the calm waters of the Sound, and eventually found a suitable spot to deposit us on a beach a
few hundred metres from the George Sound Hut (built 1923). We found our way to the hut (6 bunks and lots
of sandflies!) for a brief pause before heading inland up the Katherine Valley. Unfortunately we did
not have time to linger to catch any of the blue cod that we could see breaking the surface!
entered a forest of predominantly silver beech (up to 25m tall), with a lush canopy of pepper tree, broadleaf,
fuchsia, coprosma and soft tree fern. After 2 hours we broke out of the forest onto the beach at the
western end of Lake Katherine, where we paused for lunch.
The route around Lake Katherine was
somewhat tortuous, with a lot of boulder-hopping. At one point a safety chain helped us up a small cliff-face.
At the end of the lake we spotted a stag with well-developed antlers.
We continued up the valley
for another 2.5 hours before deciding to utilize a bush campsite at the base of the climb to Henry Pass
(about 6pm). This proved a good idea, as we were all pretty tired and the next morning would reveal what
we would have encountered had we decided to continue on. Three tents were quickly erected and we had
a fairly comfortable night.
Wednesday 12 January (Base of Henry Pass to Lake Thomson Hut)
The prospect of a long day ahead saw us on the trail early. The unrelentingly steep 2-hour ascent to
Henry Pass (830m) started immediately. It was hard going, but by 9.30a.m. we were admiring a group of
six noisy kea near the summit. The Pass was named after Richard Henry, who pioneered the George Sound
route in 1889 (it was regularly used until 1906).
We crossed the narrow tussock pass, dotted with
tarns, before dropping steeply to the Thomson valley floor through subalpine shrubs, bog-pine, hebe,
dracophylum coprosma and short tussock grassland. The route around and beyond Deadwood Lagoon was very
boggy, with some testing mudholes. We managed to avoid most of them, but at one point Heather and Jeff
got stuck and needed help to extricate themselves.
We found a pleasant lunch-stop beside the
Rugged Burn Stream. Then it was on down the valley, past the turnoff to an old mica mine, to Wapiti Falls
and Lake Thomson Hut (8 bunks, built 1950s), perched on a plinth a short distance away. It had taken
us 9 hours, 7 of them from the Pass onwards (DoC says 4.5hours from the Pass!). We had the hut to ourselves.
Thursday 13 January (Lake Thomsen Hut to Northwest Arm)
Having noticed the gross underestimation
of times on the DoC signs, we allowed four hours (instead of 2.5) for the walk down the Wapiti valley
to Lake Hankinson Hut. A group had warned us the previous day not to drop down onto the muddy flats above
the Lake Thomson, but keep to the track which sidled along the north side of the valley. Again there
was much boulder hopping, at some points over and among very large rocks with gaping holes close at hand.
One such hole could only be traversed by a single split log bridge!
At the end of Lake Thomson
we traversed a high three-wire bridge over the Wapiti River. Another such bridge about an hour later
(near Lake Hankinson Hut) proved somewhat wobbly because of missing stabilizing wires. The section between
the bridges was the easiest part of the whole tramp, relatively flat and with a fairly well-defined path.
A variety of birds, including kaka, weka, tomtit and robin, were heard.
The Fiordland Outdoors
boatman was waiting at Lake Hankinson Hut when we arrived about 11.30am. A brief 15-minute walk took
us beyond the hut to his purpose-built craft on the white sandy beach at the head of Lake Hankinson.
It is not possible to walk around this lake, which is 4.5km long and can be affected by strong winds.
Fortunately, our 20-minute trip down the lake was calm and uneventful. We alighted at a purpose-built
wooden ramp, where the boatman winched the boat up into a shed. A further 15-minute walk took us to another
delightful beach at the head of the Middle (Northwest) Fiord of Lake Te Anau. Here we boarded a larger
vessel for the pleasant 40-minute cruise across to Te Anau Downs, followed by a ride back to Te Anau
in the boatman’s ute.
Except for a few places, the George Sound route is generally well-marked.
However, the times published by DoC are dangerously inaccurate. For most sections it took us at least
half as much again as the times stated. It is not a trek for the faint-hearted or the unfit. Although
it is only 20km, the track conditions are difficult, with thigh-deep mud, tree falls, river crossings,
tree roots, 3-wire bridges, steep climbs and rough terrain. It is a trip that you do once, and are glad
that you have successfully completed, but which you probably would not repeat!
TE ANAU DAY
WALKS 12-14 Jan
Tina explored Manapouri village (Pearl Harbour) and local walks, tramped
the Kepler track to Brod Bay, and Rainbow Reach to the end on different days. Christine, Joy and Barbara
visited the Bird Sanctuary, and also discovered Ivon Wilson Reserve and a walking track circling the
beautiful, calm Lake Henry just adjacent to the Holiday Park.
ROUTEBURN TRACK 12-14
Our group of seven tramped the Routeburn Track the same direction as Phillip’s one, starting
from The Divide on the Milford Road and finishing at the Glenorchy end. We began with a climb up to Key
Summit for spectacular views of the mountain country. Then we set out on the Routeburn Track, enjoying
more scenery as we climbed up to Lake McKenzie Hut. Our second day was through open mountaintops on a
glorious day with so much of God’s work to admire. We had a break at the summit shelter before dropping
down to the Routeburn Falls Hut for our second overnight. On the third day we came out to the Glenorchy
end of the Routeburn Track and drove through to Queenstown
HOPE ARM 12-14 Jan
On the morning of the 12th Jan 2020 nine of us set off on our Hope Arm trip. We started with a very short
journey in a dinghy across the Wairau River at Pearl Harbour, Manapouri. The track into Hope Arm was
well formed and gently undulating. We crossed a headland before coming alongside the side of the lake
where we enjoyed our morning tea stop. Heading inland, we walked through beautiful stands of beech set
amongst a forest of glorious ferns. A number of trees had fallen down across the track in recent times,
requiring us to walk around them or clamber over. At one point, a fallen tree over a stream became a
makeshift bridge. Boardwalk sections enabled us to cross through a swampy area without any difficulty.
The hut at Hope Arm was, thankfully, empty although we had a number of interesting visitors during our
stay. During our first night in the hut, Jill Walker shared a devotion with us on the topic of the meaning
of peace. Our group spent two nights at this hut, enabling six people to enjoy a day walk inland to Back
Valley Hut. For most, this meant crossing their first ever three-wire bridge! The remaining three chose
to remain at the Hope Arm Hut, enjoying a walk along the lakeshore and time to rest and relax. Walking
out on our third day, we made good time and were able to secure an earlier crossing at Wairau River.