I thought this story would be best told by pictures rather than words; it’s a 4 day/3 night hike full of one amazing view after another. I did the “unguided” version, which means you hike it on your own and carry your own food/gear. It’s so popular that most folks typically book it immediately when it opens in April for November. Think of it like a concert you know will sell out.
I almost missed this bus to Te Anau (pronounced “Tea? Ah, no.”) because I was standing at the bus station rather than the street corner where this bus picks up. While I was running to the right stop, I came across a guy that was yelling my name out to “every bloke and lady with a pack on”. It was the bus driver, making sure I didn’t get left. Whew 🙂
A boat takes you from outside Te Anau to the beginning of the track. There are one million sand flies (like mosquitos) at this spot.
One of 9 suspension bridges.
Clinton hut, where we stayed the first night. There’s 40 to a hut and they have cots, gas stoves, and water that really help lighten the load. You end up hiking with the same 40 folks everyday which was fun too.
The water is SO clear. There’s none of the typical water borne bacteria so you can actually drink without treating it.
Second day’s walk starts in the forest and finishes with a small climb.
Going over Mackinnon pass after a 2 hour climb.
Other side of Mackinnon pass!
You have to be lucky to get a clear day
The fog resided briefly and I got several pics proving I was there :). I closed my eyes in almost all of them. The hike continues down the back of the mountain and through that valley in the background.
We had to take the “emergency track” on the way down because of an avalanche risk. It’s much steeper and might as well be called the “how the water gets down the mountain” path. There were a lot of four letter words going on for this small waterfall of a section…I started on one side, flooded my shoes, hopped on the tree trunk then shimmied the rest of the way down. With a 20lbs pack.
There were a bunch of keas- or as the rangers called them, “cheeky buggers who are likely to steal your stuff”. I learned later that they have the brain of a 6 year old and were considerable pests to sheep farmers because they’d actually herd the flock and send them off a cliff so they could eat the innards.
The other part I’ll add to this story is I’m just amazed by how accommodating and nice folks are! I met a woman in the hostel and after talking for less than 2 minutes she offered Liz and I a ride back from the track, saving us a $90NZD bus fare and refusing any petrol (gas) money. The same lovely lady and daughter have also given us a ride to Christchurch, fed us, and advised on how to do New Zealand on the cheap. It’s certainly been a delight.