Saturday, March 17, 2012

Routeburn Track and Milford Sound

In New Zealand you "tramp on a track" instead of "hike on a trail" so, DOC permit in hand, we three boarded the bus to Glenorchy and began tramping the Routeburn Track! This was Scott's third time in the area, from his hikes while we were in Tekapo, but he was as eager as us for another hike!

Scott and Darrell on the Routeburn
We only had to hike two hours to get to our first camp, so we set up the tents and took off for a walk up the valley you see in the background behind the tents.

Camping at Routeburn Flats
The forecast was for rain, but we got in our last bit of sun lounging in the grass by the river.

Darrell relaxing by the river while Scott and I froze taking a dip!
Scott cooked us dinner from his vast store of dehydrated food. The insulated pot covering reduces fuel use since you can keep food warm and soak dried food in it.

Tough life with Scott cooking for us all the time!
Darrell found another use for the pot cozy!
The rain came that night and the river rose, but our tents were high enough they didn't float away. The next morning we headed up to Routeburn Falls, where there is both a DOC hut and a private hut. The majority of trampers stay in huts instead of tents.

This shows only a part of the spectacular Routeburn Falls
Soon we were in a beautiful alpine zone with water everywhere including on our heads!

Tramping in the rain as we headed up to the pass
At the pass, there was an A-frame hut with a dozen hikers all trying to dry out and warm up, as well as eat lunch. There were almost as many languages, and backpack brands, as hikers forming this congenial group hunkering together out of the rain.

The views of the pass were partly obscured though we could see glaciers through the mist, and it was still lovely. We headed down the other side of the pass toward the MacKenzie campground and huts.

Scott and the amazing backpacking umbrella
As we went lower, the forest floor and up into the trees was covered with moss. I've never seen as much moss and fern as I have in New Zealand.

Darrell on the mossy track.
We camped at MacKenzie in the rain. A nice feature of the campgrounds on many of the tracks is that they have a covered area with cooking counters and even a sink. There is usually a picnic table or two under the roof as well. You can tell by the temperate rainforest that many hikers end up in the rain so the covered areas are really appreciated.

The next day we hiked out, still in the rain, and got to the shelter by the road. Here, the sun began to peak out, and by the time we caught the bus to Milford Sound, we were beginning to dry out.

Milford Sound, a glacially-carved fjord, is one of the main tourist areas in New Zealand. We were soooo lucky that the sun was shining right after so much rain as the waterfalls spilling off both sides of the steep valley were at their finest.

Spectacular views on Milford Sound in the SUN!
The last picture looks back at Milford Sound as the bus pulled out and we left this special area. What a wonderful hike and NZ experience! Good, no, GREAT times were had by all!

Looking back at Milford Sound

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