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Five weeks in New Zealand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

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    This makes me want to go to Southland! Nice photos too :) (Southland is one of the few places in NZ I haven't been.)
     
  2. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Master of Darkness

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    Hey ! Wow a wonderful Journey ! I am wondering did You have met the Austrailan Jumper Ants or snakes or did You had to eat some weird stuff ? ^^
     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Southland was probably my favourite Kiwi region and I did spend more time there than anywhere else.. I really keep wanting to return to NZ too, but it is just so far and pricy to get there.. What sort of trips have you gone on there?

    I don't think that those ants can be found in New Zealand. Same with snakes.. New Zealand is really the opposite of Australia in terms of containing animals that can kill you.. or even injure you It's a rather huge contrast - every 2nd animal in Australia can kill you :p Meanwhile in New Zealand there isn't really anything that could, except humans I guess.

    The weirdest stuff I ate was a burger with beet root on it, which wasn't really that weird. It was very new to me though.

    I will probably start posting the Milford Track photos tomorrow or Wednesday.
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 4 - Milford Track day 1

    I got lots of sleep that night, woke up at 7:30am, and felt a lot more rested than at any other point of the trip. The American dude I met the night before walked to the DOC office with me, where I bought a sweet hand-carved hiking stick that you'll see photos of later - and then caught the bus to Te Anau Downs. From there we got on a boat, which took us to Glade Wharf, the beginning of the Milford Track.

    I of course took a seat by a window showing me Fiordland National Park, one of the two parks I was going to hike through over the next week or so.



    Glade House is where the pampered tourists stay, the people you see behind the sign. They each spent $1,800+ to do this walk surrounded by luxury. Independent hikers like me were charged $50 per hut, plus transportation (2 boats, 1 bus), and would be staying on the first night at the Clinton Hut, a bit further down the valley.



    Here's a map again for easy reference. As you can see day 1 was going to be a walk in the park.

    Spoiler :

    Hello Miflord Track. Treat me well!



    I had a lot of stuff in my backpack. It was a 76L beast packed to the rim. The food was the main problem - I totally underestimated how much I'd need for the hike, how much it'd weigh, and how much room it'd take up. I didn't even have enough food, as it later turned out.

    The Milford Track takes you through some of the wettest parts of the world as well though, so I had to waterproof everything, because at times it can rain so much that parts of the trail become impassable and people get stranded. I had a waterproof hat, pants, jacket, everything wrapped in garbage bags, a big waterproof liner, waterproof stuff for my camera, for gear, etc. I had stuff to shield me from the sun, first aid stuff, stuff for warmth, stuff to cook with, and all sorts of other stuff I couldn't really do without. It all added up.

    It was only 1km or so into the hike, out of 55, and I was already feeling slightly uncomfortable under all that weight. Good thing this was a short day, I thought to myself, dumping the responsibility of having to deal with the situation to future warpus.. as per tradition.


    Link to video.

    Why am I recording commentary, anyway? Well.. I figured, why not. I read the whole manual for my camera a couple days before this, and this included of course all the video functions as well.. This was also my first solo trip and my biggest trip of any kind and I had a lot of camera memory with me too.. plus if I ever have kids this will be stuff that I can make them have to sit through and watch and listen to. So it's kind of win-win.. you might as well record commentary wherever you go.

    An interesting thing about that mountain behind Glade house is that the Milford Track takes you through a valley that was once carved out by glaciers. It has a very thin layer of soil lying on rock, creating an at times extreme place visually for trees to be growing.. Every once in a while you'll see entire sections of trees missing, with signs of an obvious avalanche.. or at times not so obvious. The dynamics of this process were explained to us by Peter the Ranger, at Clinton Hut.

     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 4 - Milford Track day 1 part 2

    Every once in a while the trees would open up and you would see a lot more of the Clinton valley and river.



    And right before you get to Clinton Hut, there is a Wetland Walkway sidetrip, which ended up being pretty cool.





    You get to this giant clearing in the middle of a mossy marshy type place, surrounded by trees in the distance and mountains behind them, in all directions. One problem was that the lighting conditions were horrible and it was seemingly near impossible to get the beauty of the place to translate well to film.. But maybe this will help you imagine the place.



    The Milford Track is a very well maintained trail.. and has to be, due to the extreme influence of erosive forces at work, mainly rain. It was a bit surreal at times, walking alone in such an unfamiliar landscape. This was taken on the main trail just before the Clinton hut.



    Once I got to the Clinton hut I picked out a free bunk bed in one of two big rooms, signed in, made dinner in the common area (mushroom & bacon soup, granola bars, and chocolate), then joined with everybody else to listen to an introduction/presentation/weather report/ticket collecting speech/etc. by Peter the Ranger, who was a very funny man and seemed to love his job. He took us on a tour around the local area and talked a bit about the history of the place, about the flora, and the fauna, and a lot of other things. A lot of what he said was fascinating, a lot informative, and the rest was usually funny.

    Since that day was so short in terms of the hiking you had to do, there was a bunch of free time. I met a lady from Esens, which was the closest thing you would call a town (of 6,000) to where I lived in Ostfriesland, Germany. She was shocked that I knew of her hometown so we ended up talking for a while and exchanging stories. I also met an Australian couple who informed me that I didn't bring enough food, after we started talking about stuff. They were right - the freeze dried meals I bought said "2 portions", but according to them I would devour those 2 portions in 1 go no problem. So .. crap. I only had 4 freezedried meals. I needed food for 7 days, so that was a bit of an issue...

    The Australians ended up giving me a bunch of mashed potatoes, which I didn't eat that night and saved for later, but let me tell you.. they ended up giving me a lot more food and I will never forget that. I ended up having food left over because of them and because of some other people that I met later in Milford Sound. Sometimes people are just awesome.

    Eventually it was time for sleep.. but first a couple more photos, while the sun was still up.



    Peter the Ranger said that it was unusually dry in the area and that they were really hoping for rain soon.. and that some might come the next day. I was hoping for the opposite, even though apparently this was a crazy dry spell that would soon enough lead to fires if no rain came down.. for Milford Track, that was very weird. But either way, I didn't want any rain in the area the next week.

    I was in bed and sleeping by 10pm.. I needed to recharge as much as possible for the demands of the next day that I knew were coming
     
  6. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

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    I've spent a lot of time in the Nelson and Golden Bay areas with my family. The scenery in some parts, particularly Nelson Lakes, Abel Tasman (the famous one), Farewell Spit (also a massive winter colony for birds) and various parts of the West Coast, is absolutely stunning, much of it in a wild, rugged way. We've done a few trips to the central North Island as well, which particularly in winter is well worth doing. Other than that I've been to most places once or twice down to Christchurch in the south and up to maybe Hamilton in the north. Auckland once too, which as a Wellingtonian I am obliged to say is hardly worth the visit but which I guess is OK, if you like cities. :D

    Yeah, we're very lucky in that regard. No snakes at all, a grand total of one dangerous spider, the katipo (white-tails come under annoying), several million harmless sheep and cows and one bird species that only poses a danger to your car.
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    It feels odd in that the geography seems so familiar even while the vegetation looks so alien.
     
  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    That part of NZ (except for parts of the west coast like the glaciers and Greymouth, but that's further south) wasn't on my itinerary, but I was in contact with a hostel owner lady about potential transportation and a place to crash somewhere close to farewell spit. I found a nice beach somewhere in the area, I forget now, it was on the western coast.. but it was really out of the way and I ended up not heading out there.. The beach looked epic in the photos I found, I forget its name now, but either way there was just no time, it was too far out of the way.

    My plans called for heading to the north island right after Kaikoura via Picton, but I talked to a lot of backpackers (and locals) on the trip and a lot of people said that Abel Tasman was definitely worth visiting.. so I made a detour to Kaiteriteri via Nelson and Motueka. The north-most tip of Abel Tasman Nat. Park is as close as I got to Farewell Spit though.

    I spent less than a day in Wellington I think. I had a walk around the most central parts of town, the main streets, I think, I saw the beehive, took the trolley up to the gardens, and walked around up there a bit.. Wanted to visit Te Papa but it was already closed...
    All in all it had a slightly different vibe than what I encountered on the south island, but I enjoyed my brief stay
     
  9. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

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    Might have been Wharariki Beach? I've been there, twice I think, but the last time was over the summer holidays. It's absolutely stunning.
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, that's it!

    The lady who I was in contact with told me that the transportation she could hook me up with (there was no bus service) would take me from Nelson and through small "alternative type lifestyle villages".

    At the time I had no idea what she meant, but later I figured out that she probably meant nudists. There's nudists in the area, right? It wasn't anything else? :lol: She was the nicest lady ever and kept trying to convince me to go there, but I've got to admit, the "alternative lifestyle villages" thing put me off a bit.
     
  11. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

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    Nudists? Not that I know of. Hippies, almost certainly. :p
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 5 - Milford Track day 2

    20 people sleeping in the same room on slightly squeaky mattresses must be some sort of a Kiwi joke, but what ends up happening is that the first person who wakes up starts a chain reaction, leading to everyone else waking up shortly thereafter.

    I was up at 6:15am and eating freeze dried bacon and eggs not too long after that. There was a weather update posted on the board announcing the possibility of rain later in the day.. and it was actually kinda cold out and there were low hanging clouds, so I dressed appropriately and by 8:15am I was out of there. The ranger estimated 6 hours of walking time to the next hut, which I presumed to mean "at least 6 hours"

    This is Clinton Hut that morning, or at least the common area part of it, where you can find tables, benches, and a kitchen with stoves you can use to boil water and make food. There were also the 2 other buildings that we slept in, similar in size, a bathroom, and the ranger's hut, just out of view. A lot of stuff was on a raised boardwalk type of thing due to the presence of sensitive marshland



    There were a couple of us standing there, getting ready to start walking, when suddenly.. a Kea!



    It mostly ignored us (yet it was very aware of us) and tried to get into one of the backpacks. The guy the backpack belonged to was right there taking photos, not minding the attempted break-in... for a while at least.

    Keas are known for their super strong beaks and their intelligence, curiosity, and problem solving skills, so if it's possible to get inside of something, they will figure out a way.


    Link to video.

    And then the walking began, for the most part at the bottom of Clinton valley and later canyon, walking right beside the Clinton river. This meant varying types of terrain and vegetation



    It wasn't long until the sun was out and the clouds were totally gone. I was building up quite a sweat and had to take a break at one point and take off my merino wool base layer, which I put on to keep warm. It was also very good at absorbing and dissipating sweat, but it was so incredibly nice out, that it was just getting in the way.

    The Clinton River





    Then for a while the vegetation almost stopped, or at least the trees did, and the canyon became far more canyon-like, in terms of looking perfect for an ambush involving hundreds of Maori warriors or maybe stormtroopers. I should be wearing a sunhat at this point of the hike, but I'm a dumbass. I paid for my dumbness later.



    The scenery was getting more and more interesting.. and the Clinton river at times seemed impossibly clean



    The weather was amazing, but it wasn't even 11am yet and there were still at least 4 hours of solid hiking left to go until Mintaro Hut and a view of the MacKinnon Pass, the highest point of the hike, which I'd have to tackle the next day.
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 5 - Milford Track day 2 part 2

    I took 2 lunch breaks this day and a lot more shorter breaks. By 1pm I was still 2-3 hours away from the hut and already getting tired. Breaks became more frequent. The good part was that I could walk at my own pace, as long as I got to the hut before it got dark, which was hours away.. So I didn't really have to rush.

    On one of my lunch breaks I spotted a Kea up on a branch not too far away




    Link to video.

    The sun was out in full force, explaining all the glare. It was really a beautiful day, with no rain clouds in sight. There were more and more waterfalls on both sides of the canyon and more interesting geological features as you went.



    A frond



    There were a lot of these guys around - they eventually turn into ferns



    The elevation slowly increased as I made my way towards Mintaro hut and the MacKinnon Pass



    "Hidden Lake", a side trip, where I ran into the American again. We took a break here and chatted a bit. The lake wasn't really that hidden, and it was only 5 minutes or so off the main trail. A good spot for a break.



    Still maybe 2 hours left to go that day.

     
  14. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Pretty place :)
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Way prettier than anything I can see out my window right now.. Everything here is unfortunately flat. Maybe that's a sign that I should move to New Zealand one day
     
  16. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I happen to think there are a lot of pretty places in Canada :dunno: YMMV
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    There are, even here in Ontario, you just really get bored of the flatness of the land. And if flying domestically wasn't as pricy as it is, I would have probably seen more of the Canadian Rockies by now
     
  18. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Yeah, the great plains areas don't interest me much either. If I was in Canada I'd want to live on one of the coasts.
     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 5 - Milford Track day 2 part 3

    The Clinton River came in and out of view and it always seemed to look different



    Getting closer to Mintaro Hut now





    Cool Waterfall



    For the last hour or two, the terrain was a bit steeper, and so the frequency of the breaks that I took increased. I didn't mind taking them - I knew I could pace myself and there was always something to take a photo of. So there were plenty of breaks. I'd just throw my bag on the ground somewhere, lie down, take in the sights around me, sip on some water, eat some chocolate, salami, or snacks, and relax.


    Link to video.

    Very close to the hut now. You can see MacKinnon pass ahead



    I arrived at Mintaro Hut at 3:40pm, got settled, and took a couple photos of the surroundings.



    Since it was so nice out, there was then the option of climbing to the top of the MacKinnon pass, taking a look, and then climbing back. This was sometimes done when the weather was nice, because the Milford Track got so much rain and was often very cloudy, especially in the morning.. and the top of the pass had amazing views of the surrounding area, so good weather and clear skies were often taken advantage of. It of course meant that you'd have to climb the pass twice and climb down twice.. but one climb up and one climb down would be done without your big backpack, and it was "only" 500m, so it was fully doable, if slightly demanding.

    I felt like I needed to recharge a bit and not strain myself though, so I stayed at the hut, made some more onion and bacon soup, read a bit, and then made some freeze dried beef curry for dinner, which actually tasted sort of amazing.

    It wasn't long until it was time to go to bed, take in the memories of the day that passed, wonder about the MacKinnon pass and the rest of the track, and fall asleep.
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I guess I don't mind where I live - it's right in the middle of the great lakes, so about 2 hours away max from 3 of the great lakes, a whole bunch of beaches, parks, etc. The Canadian shield escarpment is close too, and along with that come a plethora of parks as well.. not to mention being close to a lot of large urban centres.. There's also plenty of "in the middle of nowhere" type parks, like Algonquin, within driving distance.. That one's a 7 hour drive IIRC, but remote enough.. and an fun adventure once you get there, even if you just go camping.

    but the one downside is all the flatness. I think that's probably why mountains draw me in so much.. Walking through a park and seeing beautiful mountains all around is just such a change for me - it's a real treat. I've never lived with mountains real close by, so I'm not sure what that'd be like, but I wouldn't mind giving it a shot one day.

    My left ankle is still healing from Peru, but I've made significant progress lately! I got my orthodics re-done too, and fixed up, so I am slowly getting motivated for another large trip somewhere.. No idea where to yet, and before I book anything I'll need to replace my credit cards with something a bit more travel/airmile friendly... But that's all on my list and I think I will be going somewhere in June or September. I think the change in weather and climate outside has raised my spirits a bit too, making me more excited about the next trip..

    But yeah, being around mountains is an escape for me. And I'm starting to miss them!
     

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