It was a tramping holiday in the mountains, but telling by the number of pictures I’ve taken of lakes, lakes seem to be what I’m really into.
I’ve seen a lot here in NZ by now, but there’s still a lot to discover. We chose a route down South I’ve never driven before and it turned out to be a really nice one. Lindis Pass is not much of an alpine thing, but very beautiful in its own way.
Routeburn & Greenstone Tracks
The first tramp we did was the Routeburn, and then the Greenstone which links up to the Routeburn and makes it a loop. On the first day the weather was fantastic, and since the forecast was not good for the following day, we just dropped our stuff at the hut and went further up.
The scenerie was spectacular, and we had a good look at Lake Harris.
As forecasted, the following day the mountains were in cloud. It was really cold at the saddle, but still not too clouded to climb Conical Hill. Unfortunately, we were in the mist all the way down to the next hut. The hut was in a really nice place right next to Lake McKenzie.
The following day, it cleared up again. That day, we turned off into the Greenstone Track, which forms a loop with the Routeburn. The Greenstone track follows runs at the bottom of the – surprise surprise – Greenstone Valley, with beautiful river flats.
The transport back to town (Glenorchy) was by water taxi across Lake Wakatipu. Sounds dull, but turned out to be a real adrenaline thing, since the waves were quite high which made it a bit of a wild bumpy ride.
A day off, then back into the hills, this time on the Motatapu track (also known as the Shania Twain track since it runs across her property). Quite a change of scenerie, with steep farmed hills and narrow creek valleys. Hot, dusty, and rough, and we didn’t even do the really hard bits.
Out again, Pete with a cold and me with really bad blisters thanks to my new tramping boots. This forced us to have a few rest days in civilisation (= Wanaka) with lots of sleep and reading books.
When our respective ailments had vanished, we set out into the Upper Wilkin valley. Setting out in this case meant jumping into a tiny Cessna and flying up to Jumboland airstrip (named after a horse called Jumbo). Then a flat one hour walk to Top Forks Hut, one of the nicest huts I’ve ever been at.
The following day was nice and sunny and perfect for a walk up to a couple of lakes. Lake Diana is a quiet brownish lake, surrounded by scrub, and mountains of course.
From there, it’s just 20 more minutes to Lake Lucidus, a milky glacial lake with walls of moraines around it, and glaciated mountains looming over it.
Another two hours further up is Lake Castalia. Surrounded by walls of rock, and of clear turquois blue water, it’s absolutely stunning.
The next day was absolutely fabulous. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, warm, and NO SANDFLIES!!!! It was that cold during the night, that they had all died, which made it a day in paradise. We had slept in, and due to the absence of these blood suckers, could spend a deliciously lazy day at the hut, reading a book, but mainly watching for ice falls off Mt Pollux.
Our last day turned out to be cold and miserable. We went up to the Waterfall Basin, a beautiful alpine valley, which was worth doing even in not-so-great weather. But the wood burner in the hut was very much appreciated this evening.
We walked out to Kerin Forks Hut on the following day, and took a jetboat back to Makarora a day later.
Rob Roy Glacier
Our final tramp of the holiday was up to Rob Roy Glacier. Just a daywalk, but absolutely fantastic. It’s a very easy walk, but you get very close to the glacier. We even went further than the official viewpoint by following unmarked tracks, and were rewarded by peace & quiet and an excellent view of the glacier.
There was one more tramp we had wanted to do, but then had to abandon the idea when we had arrived at the carpark, due to bad weather moving in. Instead, we went to Cardrona and spent a couple of hours in the pub (or rather in the garden at the back since the bad weather had not yet made it there).
Our final day (my final day I should say, because Pete had one more week off) was spent on the tourist trail in Arrowtown and Queenstown.
Unfortunately the weather was still lousy on the next morning and my flight along the alps to Christchurch was completely in cloud. Wanaka airport was an interesting experience though, because it’s so tiny.