STARTING POINT: QUEENSTOWN
ENDING POINT: INVERCARGILL
I would describe the last week as slightly spontaneous, slightly lucky and very unique. Dylan and I put together a route that would take us from Glenorchy, up to the Routeburn Track, to which we avoided the hefty fee to stay at the track’s huts by camping 500-meters off the trail and up the boulder strewn Valley of the Trolls. It was a beautiful walk, one of NZ’s Great Walks, and indeed lends the hiker exceptional scenery and time to just mediate on their surroundings as well as themselves. I must say, that even though we were not fortunate for the best weather window(we had one day of fine weather and another spent in low cloud), the experience more than made up for it. The trail walks through thick moss-infused groves of mountain, red and silver beech. The autumn light splintered across the forest, one that gave you that sort of enchanted feeling. Along the way, I felt inspired to ponder my goals in life and as to where I wanted to venture next.
Partly spurred by a conversation I’d had with Dylan earlier that morning, as well as feeling a bit out of it over the last week, just wrapped up in a ball of apprehension and self-doubt about my future, my mind came into crystal clear clarity while walking along the Routeburn. I honed in on my life goals, created a new sound path, and felt a return to being in the present.
After the Routeburn, I hiked down to the Caples Track, where I unexpectedly ran into two friends of the trail, Don and Natashia whom I met back n the Rees-Dart Track. ANother woman from France was there and it made for a fun night chatting about world travels, playing a few rounds of chess and sipping on hot cups of tea. Then back up and over McKellar saddle with views of the Darren Mountains. Dylan and I then reunited with the Te Araroa by walking up the Greenstone River, with beautiful gem-like pools of water and large trout swimming below. From there I followed the Mavora Walkway down to the Mararoa River and Mavora Lakes. Here the trail is drastically different from the well-maintained and almost manicured tread of the Routeburn, and instead it was more of a muddy, rooted bog, but it was fun and led into open tussock country.
At the lake’s edge I caught a ride with some hunters, scopping up Dylan a few kilometers later and off we went, heading out of the forest, west toward Te Anu and then north up to Milford Sound. It would be absolutely silly to have come all the way to NZ and to be this close to Milford and to not go see it. So, that’s exactly what we did. After stealth camping in a nice fir and pine forest beside a river, we caught a ride in the second car that passed. Almost everyone going that way is headed to Milford and therefore we stopped a few times to take a look at a few of the scenic higlights, like the Chasm and Mirror Lakes. At Milford proper, Dylan and I border a cruise, indulging in the moment, and for 2 1/2 hours we had a guided tour on a big cruise boat up through the fjord, passing fur seas, waterfalls and a mountain-meets-the-sea view that can’t e found anywhere else in the world. What made that day so unique, as the captian said several times, was the wind was flipped and as a result the seas basked in the sun without being bothered by sandflies, and the waterfalls lunged off the mountainsides and were swept into this enchanted film of water. Everyone on the boat was ecstatic for the whole experience, from the crew members to us paying guests. It was certainly a highlight to my trip thus far.
And now what? Well, I’m getting closer and closer to the bluff. Dylan and I were going to be there a few hours ago, but as it happened, while we were hitching what wouldn’ve been one of the last sections of the Te Araroa, we drove past JARB: Jeb, Amy, Robbie and Britt, the four America’s rockin’ the purist route (tho I’m not envious one bit). So, were hanging out in Invercargill for a moment to have another reunion with those crazy cool American friends whom we’d first ran into way back up north in Hamner SPrings.
That’s all for now. To the BLUFF!