This post in Francais
A week spent in Fordland, enjoying some of the best sights I have seen in New Zealand. Waterfalls, Keas and doing lots of hiking. We spent a lot of the week being wet in the amazing Milford Sounds before challenging our bodies and minds on a 3 day 55km sea to 1000m hike, through native bush, across wind swept peaks, wild beaches, dolphins spotting and swing bridge crossing.
21st November 2011 My Birthday in Milford
Happy Birthday to me!! I wake up a day older under the rain, how else would you wake up in New Zealand in spring?
After a quick shopping spree in Invercargill, for camping gear we got on the road again. If you interested in great Kiwis in history I recommend watching The Worlds fastest Indian, about a Kiwi, Burt, that goes to Utah and breaks the speed record on the salt flats with his old Indian motorcycle. The film shows Kiwi ingenuity at its best.
We drove up to Te Anau, the gateway to the Milford fords, but known hear as the Milford Sounds. Kiwis like to rename things.
On the Milford highway, which is the road that leads from Te Anau to the Milord sound, it a tourist highway, with bus after bus of them. It is also really stunning. I have never seen so many waterfalls in my life. Crystal clear lakes, mountains either side of the road with snow on the top, just magic.
We drove down to Milford Sound, planned our cruise for tomorrow and stayed in a very nice and normally priced campsite (considering its location). Had a few beers to celebrate my birthday and just had a great nice, under the stars in this world heritage local.
22nd November 2011 Milford Fords Cruise
Sometimes, travelling on your own in a car is the best way to travel, you beet the crowds and that is what we did today. We booked on to the first cruise in the morning at 9am, to early for the tourist buses as they are all coming from at least 2 hours away.
The Cruise we took was with a company called Jucy, it was cheap as we got a 2 for 1 offer, we also got free tea and coffee and a muffin, so nothing to complain about.
The cruise itself was amazing; we saw penguins, seals huge waterfalls, we went under the biggest one and had a free shower.
After the cruise we went to see a few other look out points, and played with the Kea’s, or should I say the Kea played with us. They hang around parking where tourist park their cars and try to steal food anyway they can, they try and look cute so tourist will feed them, they jump on cars, they can open backpacks and doors, they are a very smart parrot. We stopped to film them and at one point we had more than 5 on our roof and one tried to come in the window!!
We spent the afternoon, in the rain, by Lake Gunn. That is where we slept, only to be woken up by a ranger that wanted us to pay camp fees.
23th November 2011 Hollyford track
In Milford there are 3 tracks that everyone talks about, this was not one of them. It by far did not mean that it was not great, amazing and full of waterfalls and obstacles, it just meant that it was a little wetter and harder than the others and partly on private land so the DOC (department of Conservation) did not try and sell it to us. More on the DOC later, so today we walked on the Hollyford track and by the end of it we were totally wet. Back to the car to dry off and back out of the raining Milford area; it rains more than 6 meters a year here.
We drove to Tuatapere, stayed in a cool hostel, where the owner leant us ‘The fastest Indian’ to watch, a really good movie.
24th November 2011 Tuatapere
Today we spent most of the day preparing for our 3 day hike that starts tomorrow. We brought the food that we need, did the laundry. We went to the briefing that told us what to expect on the track. Packed our bags, spent sometime updating our blog and slept early.
25th November 2011 Humpridge track day 1
Day 1 rise and shine as early as the sunshine. We got up at 6 am, had breakfast and packed everything in to the car. We drove to the start of the track, where we left the comfort of our car behind, and armed with nothing but our backpacks we started our 55km track that will take us from sea level to 1000m high and back down again.
The beginning of the track was easy, we walked through the forest for an hour and then down on to the beach, where we began to climb over rocks for the next hour. It was a bit challenging but we made it! After crossing our second swing bridge of the day we stopped for a snack before heading on up to the lunch hut. The walk from the swing bridge to the lunch hut was fine we had bits of ‘highway’ that made it easier. Just before the lunch hut we crossed a chain bridge.
After lunch the hard part started, at this point we were only at 200m above sea level, over the next 3 hours we had a very steep climb up, which was almost vertical at point, we climbed over a few fallen trees just to make it harder.
At about 800 meters we started to walk along the ridge, which was really windy at least 60kms per hour blowing right at us. Up the last 200 meters, almost being blown off the track a few times before making it to the hut, Okaka, for the night.
It was freezing up there, with wind and rain beating down. We sat by the fire, listened to the briefing and had dinner, before hiding as well as we could in our sleeping bags for the night.
26th November 2011 Humpridge track day 2
It was freezing when we woke up, 2 degree plus 80KMs wind so a -5 feel. We had our hot porridge and brown sugar before we set off on the track again. We wind pushed us around for the first hour, before we got below the tree line. It was a bit scary, I thought I was going to be blown away. When we got under the tree line, things became calmer and the weather started to get better. We walked through the enchanted forest and up and down for a while before starting our decent. That is when I fell, luckily I didn’t hurt myself too badly but a few bruises made walking the next 6 hours harder.
We got back down to about 200 meters just around lunch time that was when the fun started again. We had to cross 3 wooden viaducts. The longest and highest being the Percy Burn standing at 36 meters high and 150 meters long. I managed to cross it. New Zealand is helping me beat my fear of heights. Only later that night did I find out that the viaduct will fall down one day without warning as the wood is rotting from the inside out. Glad I did not know that before crossing it.
After that we stopped for lunch and then play Indian Jones for the rest of the hike to the second hut, port Craig, as we were trying to keep our feet dry.
Once at Port Craig we left our packs and went down to the beach, where we sat watching the bay, until the Hector dolphins came out to played. Hector dolphins are the smallest and rarest in the world and we were really lucky to see them.
The day ended with a beer in the sunshine after dinner, before going to bed early.
27th November 2011 Humpridge track day 3
Only 7 hours of hiking and we will be back at our car! I am really enjoy the track, but after the steep climb and the freezing first night and the steep climb back down, I am tried, but I feel great and I would not change it for the world.
We hiked across 3 beaches and did some rock climbing, swing bridge crossing and 200 step climbing before we got back to our car.
It has been amazing and I can not wait until our next trek.
In the evening we had showers and they felt great, if you ever want to enjoy a shower, just go out in the bush for a few days and then come back and have one.