It took five years to turn my walking plans for New Zealand into reality, but over Christmas and the New Year I finally managed to walk the Routeburn and the Rees-Dart tracks. My friend Heike flew in from Germany to join me on the walks and we started with the popular Routeburn, walking from The Divide at the Fiordland end to the Routeburn Shelter at the Glenorchy end. We were blessed with the most amazing weather and didn’t need to break the rainjackets out even once.
The walk is very popular, because it is truly spectacular, and you have to book in well in advance to ensure a bunk in one of the huts. Those huts are something else, with mattresses and kitchens and allow you to bring less equipment. Unfortunately we did have to bring mats and tent as we would need those for the Rees-Dart track afterwards, but having the booking meant we didn’t have to rush to the next hut to secure a space.
The walk took us through a variety of vegetation, but one constant was the stunning mountain scenery we got to feast our eyes on. Our arrival at Mackenzie Hut on the first night, after walking for most of the way in vegetation, was breathtaking and the next morning I really wished I had not been lazy and taken that dip in the lake after we arrived at the hut. It looked so inviting, but the next morning was just too chilly to plunge in.
The second day, Christmas Day, was even more spectacular and after we had climbed up from the hut we got to a glorious spot where we could look deep into the Hollyford Valley and across to the Darran Mountains including Mt Tutoko. Those views stayed with us for the whole day until we crossed Harris Saddle and started our descent into the Routeburn Valley, which wasn’t too shabby to look at either. Routeburn Falls Hut was an even prettier hut than the previous one and in a perfect position perched against the hillside.
The final day was an easy walk downhill, occasionally catching glimpses of the roaring river. We finished our walk in style as instead of the expected bus transfer from Glenorchy we were picked up in a speedboat to take us across to Kinloch Lodge, where we found much longed for showers, laundry facilities and a hot tub, not to mention lovely food ad wine menu. Did I say I love walking in New Zealand?