I have not had Internet for 24 hours so a bit confusing I will write yesterday’s and today’s blog separately but this is the photos from the track and the only way it will make sense is to first read the post from yesterday and then come back to this…….you have been warned this is going to be a long post.
First of all I want to tell you about that plane journey I have never been on public transportation where a number of passengers were screaming….I had a window seat and knew we were close to mountains on both sides
What i did not know is that the airport is in the valley and a short runway and surrounded by high wind gusts. They do not do any landings after dusk and close the airport.
Our pilot was fighting the gusts coming in to land and he was almost touching down when he pulled us up on a huge ascent back into the clouds…it was a scary and memorable moment!!
When I decided to come to New Zealand over a year ago and started my research and planning the Millford Track was high on my list it is rated as one of the best walks in the world and there are only two ways to walk it.
One as an independent walker where you carry everything you need for 4 nights and you stay in Park huts that have large dorms and some cooking stoves and cold showers and bathrooms..the cost per night for one of these huts is 52 dollars per night.
The other way is the way I chose I went with Ultimate Hikes they have been doing these treks since 1992…..they provide for everything from coach, boat and lodgings and food and of course guides….the cost for me was 2000 dollars which seems very high until you break it down to two coach rides, a 90 minute cruise, 4 incredible guides who did a magnificent job. Wonderful accommodations, breakfast and lunches which we made ourselves and 3 course dinners. Hot showers and washing and drying facilities….little treats, entertainment..I think it was money well spent!!!
So day one
We left Queenstown in this coach
After a two hour drive we stopped for lunch and then another drive where we boarded
For a one hour ride to the start of the track.
We were a group of 47 hikers and one main guide and 3 charming young ladies were guiding….there was a group of about 25 Japanese tourists and they had there own interpreter but also on of the guides was Japanese.
It was a short walk to our first lodge
All the lodges we stayed in were very similar in facilities and food….
Three of us were assigned to a six bunk dorm and as it turned out John the English guy was a snorer..so Paul and I were not too pleased and mentioned it to the guide to see if he could do something the next night.
We then went on a nature walk and back for a fabulous dinner they all were….introductions were made after dinner and the generator goes off at 10pm.
The generator comes on at 6.30am and you have a chance to make your own lunch from a huge selection and then breakfast is served and again a wonderful selection and then we were on the road…the format is that one guide leads, two hang in the middle and Kelley the leader brings up the rear…it is not a race and you walk your own pace and I decided to leave a little later as i knew i would catch most of the others up…..it was a great hike with magnificent waterfalls almost everywhere
I think you all know how i like yellow arrows and the memories they bring back to me of my Camino last year!
This was an easy hike and the hot tea at lunch time was a nice touch to go with the lunch I had made….at the lunch stop i was getting cold and Simone, one of the guides told me the lodge for the night was only three miles away and i could go on my own if i wished…..i did not because i wanted to be there first but only because for me when i hike i just like to keep moving..so I took off.
Who is that guy???
The waterfalls were everywhere and quite amazing.
and was greeted by a young lady offering cold drinks, hot drinks and cookies!!!
I was shown around the lodge and my room and she told me they had moved Paul and myself into a room with three other guys to get us away from John the snorer….more on that later!!!
These are the washing and drying rooms
I was already into a routine and after leaving my stuff on my bed I would take my boots and back pack into the drying room that was different from the one above the room for the packs was not as hot in order not to damage the boots with the high heat. I would then wash all my clothes that i hiked in and put them in what i call the sauna drying room and then a long hot shower and I felt like a new man.
I went into the lounge with my Nexus and did some writing until at 4pm was treated to these!!!
Fresh hot scones with jam and real cream!!!
The entertainment here at this lodge was watching the helicopter drop off food and supplies!!!
Dinner was wonderful and after a sing a long and some card games retired in time for the generator to be turned off at 10pm.
I would like to tell you i had a great sleep but this was worse than the first night with snorers..Paul and i spoke to Kelley and he said he was sorry and he would fix us up tonight….
This day was going to be hard about 10 miles but a serious elevation gain and we were told that at the summit the winds were almost gale force and because of that they wanted us to be close together so they let the slower hikers leave first and I and about 6 others left later with the back guide….again another wonderful morning walk
The climb started and it was hard!!
Kelley was right the winds here were ferocious and I lost my back pack cover somewhere out over the cliffs!!
The views here were grand!!!
There was a hut close by where again hot tea to have with lunch and the same thing happened again ..three of us were told we could start off on our own the lodge was at the bottom of the valley…so Robert and Liam a wonderful Aussie man and his 23 year old son started the climb down which to me was much harder than the climb up!!!
It was good to see the lodge because we knew what was waiting for us…
After being assigned our rooms I was thrilled to see that I had been put in a room with just Paul!!!
So this lodge is where there is an optional hike to the highest waterfalls in New Zealand and the 5th highest in the world…did you think I would pass that up just because I had hiked 10 miles…..the three of us decided it was best not to get changed but just to go so we did…a 45 minute walk to the one of the most amazing sights and sounds I have seen….hard to describe with photos as the power of these falls were incredible…..
When Robert was here ten years ago he was able to hike behind the falls and he wanted to take his son there and asked me join them….Linda you will be happy to know I passed on that because it looked way too hard and already just taking the photo above i was utterly drenched…they tried to get close but could not get anywhere near and we all came back to the lodge looking like drowned rats!!!
The usual routine and a great dinner and then the rains started it pounded down all night long but I had a good sleep!!
Sorry about the quality here!!
At breakfast it was still raining very hard and Kelley informed us that this was going to be a tough hike because not only was it the longest at almost 14 miles but because of the rain the river was raging and swollen and part of the track was under water and at one point we would we walking through waist high water…well to cut it short the rain was hard and my feet were soaked and when we came to the section where the track was covered Kelley was there to help and told us the best way was just to wade straight through and i did….it was not up to my waist but my shorts were submerged….thought it wise not to take any shots but here is one where the water was not as high….it was sort of fun the water was not cold, wasn’t hot either!!!
Miraculously we were only a mile away from finishing the walk when the sun came out!!!!
Around 2.00 about 8 of us finished the journey!!!
Great views whilst we waited for the boat to take us back to our last lodge
I was thrilled at this lodge had a room to myself and a bath but you know what happened here…
A great dinner and presentation…
It was a wonderful evening and this time no generator turn off….
I had a great sleep and same thing pack a lunch a great breakfast and then we were driven to the boat for our 90 minute ride through Millford Sound…
because of all the rain the hundreds of waterfalls were in their full glory!!!
This was way cool the skipper managed to get the boat under the waterfall!!!
Was was really nice for me about this mini cruise is that this where the cruise ship I was on sailed into almost a month earlier!!!
We were then bussed back to Queenstown and they dropped me off at the airport….said fond farewells to some amazing people and great guides.
This was just one of those life’s experiences….loved every minute the snoring and the water walk!!!!