The Hollyford track was exactly the experience I had sought: A quiet 10 days in the beautiful South Island bush.
Big valley, big river, big lakes, and glaciated mountains towering above it all. Then opening up towards the coast with flat lowland forest, grassy flats, and sand dunes. At the end the endless ocean, under a big empty sky. Seals, lots of seals. And a lonely Fjordland crested penguin.
I set off in beautiful weather. I finished in beautiful weather. Inbetween, I wore my raincoat for a whopping two hours. For 10 days of tramping in one of the wettest parts of the country, that’s practically unheard of.
It was dry, but not too dry for the waterfalls still being very pretty:
Getting up early one morning, I was rewarded with the peaks glowing in the early morning sun
That day, I tackled the Demon trail. It’s got the name for a reason, as it is a devilish section of track that is rough, slippery, up and down most of the time, few flat and smooth sections, and even fewer views. To break up the routine, a walkwire across a creek here and there provided some entertainment:
The evening at Lake McKerrow was nice, and donning latest Fjordland backcountry fashion I could actually enjoy it:
Sandflies, sandflies, more sandflies…
Once off the Demon Trail, the walk out to Martin’s Bay was pure delight:
Equally delightful is Martin’s Bay itself. The Hollyford River reaches the sea here, creating an amazing landscape of ocean, dunes, lowland forests, and a backdrop of mountains:
Impressive enough during the day, absolutely stunning in the evening light:
Further out at Long Reef, the seal colony impresses with lots of cute pups. I sat there for a long time watching them, and a lone Fjordland crested penguin.
I jetboated back most of the way to save myself the Demon Trail. The jetboat ride was an experience in itself, with a veil of mist softening the contours of the landscape and giving it an eerie atmosphere:
One of the highlights of my walk was McKerrow Island. Imagine a peaceful clear lake in the sun, framed by mountains under a deep blue sky. Framed by a sandy beach, picturesque driftwood, and rare yellow dune sedge:
The old-style hut was a pleasure to stay in:
Further on, Lake Alabaster impresses with a view up the Pyke valley:
There was more sun and blue sky on the following day, with Mount Tutoko rising into the sky in all its glory:
Then my last night on the track, in Hidden Falls Hut. Another highlight, with grassy river flats, mountain views, and blue sky:
My verdict: Highly recommendable. Just don’t forget your sandfly protective gear.