Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 03 Jan, 2011
Snow is covering the world in a thin but persistent layer when we wake up on our first morning in Manapouri and, as a quick look on the New Zealand Department of Transport website confirms, the Milford Road is still closed. Manapouri is a village…Read More
Snow is covering the world in a thin but persistent layer when we wake up on our first morning in Manapouri and, as a quick look on the New Zealand Department of Transport website confirms, the Milford Road is still closed. Manapouri is a village twenty kilometres south of Te Anau, on the shores of the Manapouri lake, the fifth largest and second deepest in New Zealand. The lake's main outflow is the Waiau River and the whole hydrological system is used to generate electricity at the West Arm power station. The lake narrowly escaped having its levels raised for the purpose of electricity production in the 1960s, but the efforts of conservationists resulted in official protection and the lake becoming managed but within natural levels. It is thus still one of the most beautiful lakes in the Fiordland, surrounded by mountains and with many short and longer walking tracks nearby. The lake is also where tourist cruises to Doubtful Sound and the underground West Arm Power Station depart from. We spend a day taking our bearings, chilling out and resting in the cottage, doing shopping in Te Anau (which is a fifteen minute drive, a much larger settlement and clearly a major visitors' centre with numerous hotels and tourist businesses. The Te Anau lake, although also attractive, is not as pretty as the Manapouri one. In the afternoon (having checked the Milford Road status as still closed and decided not to go on a Doubtful Sound trip simply because the cost for our family of four would be something in the region of 600 NZD, or 300 GBP, plus any extras) we drive to the harbour from which the Doubtful Sound trips depart, but not in order to go on a trip (it's too late anyway) but to go for a wee walk as described in one of the DoC booklets ( Fiordland National Park Day Walks) as the Manpouri circular walk. We hire a rowing boat for 20 dollars and after much flapping and excitement, manage to cross the Waiau River and moor at the little jetty on the other side. I am a bit doubtful as to whether we'll manage to complete the loop that is marked as "moderate" and estimated to take 3 hours if done by normal people (by normal, read ones not encumbered by a four year old), as it's 4.30pm by the time we tumble out of the boat and clamber onto the jetty and it's going to get dark by 7pm. Still, off we go into the woods. At first, it's a comfortable and easy walking on springy, moss covered ground among tall trees. We have to cross a stream or two, but it's not too bad and even the Younger Child is enjoying it. The path follows the river back towards the lake for a while and then we turn inland and the route (just as the booklet warns) starts climbing and becomes muddy. Or so we think. After ten minutes it is clear than there are degrees of muddy – and we have only seen beginning of it. The path becomes a waterlogged bog and we have to find ways round or across giant puddles. The Older Child seems to relish the challenge, including occasional falling in, while the Younger Child is anxious, whines for being carried and doesn't like the mud (his boots are much lower, tough – why don't they do proper walking boots for small children?) For both, The Very Muddy Walk will remain an oft-recalled highlight (or a low point as it might be) of the trip for months to come.The wood gets darker (or is it the dusk getting closer) and we – reluctantly – decide to turn round as the prospect of negotiating the same bog in the dark (and we have no torches) is not one anybody relishes. On the way back, the river is like a rippling surface of mercury, gleaming metallic, with all colours intensified in the falling dusk. We arrive back at our cottage ready for the washing of pretty much all garments and through the back doors we see Takitimu Mountains on the horizon, blazing white on the background of the cobalt sky. Close
Written by Garros85 on 17 Oct, 2006
The mug of steaming tea provided a soothing respite from our morning rainforest climb. Our Milford Track guides had rushed ahead of the thirty odd hikers on the vertical zigzag mountain trail to organize this welcome reward at the summit of Mackinnon Pass. I had…Read More
The mug of steaming tea provided a soothing respite from our morning rainforest climb. Our Milford Track guides had rushed ahead of the thirty odd hikers on the vertical zigzag mountain trail to organize this welcome reward at the summit of Mackinnon Pass. I had been hiking in New Zealand's rainforest for four days and this was the first day that it had rained, still only a fine mist. I'd finally get to use all the rain gear that I had been carrying in my 25 pound backpack. I packed everything inside my pack in individual waterproof bags. I was ready for the rain even my hiking boots were waterproof. The 1073 m summit of the pass was at least fifteen degrees cooler than the conditions at the base of Mt. Ballon deep in The South Island's Fiordland National Park. In contrast to the dense rainforest, the Pass named after it's Scottish discoverer is a treeless, coarse grass covered windy access to the famed Milford Sound. My down under adventure started with a quick email to the Ultimatehikes Company the all inclusive guided walk organizers. My reservation request was short notice but they had space for me. I booked a reduced Air Zealand Internet fare to Auckland. From Auckland I took a short Quantas flight to the South Island's Queenstown, the alpine capital of all season outdoor sports. The Milford section of my hike is a 5 day 4 nights trek The track is isolated, not directly accessible by road. From Queenstown a scenic bus ride to the town of Te Anau where we boarded a small ferry boat that dropped us off at Lake Te Anau's Glade Wharf. We had a short hike to our lodge for a one night stay at Glade House. All meals are prepared and catered by staff. The meals included steak, lamb, salmon and station raised venison. In the morning we started our first 25km walk. The trails displayed no sign of man made litter. It appears that there isn't a patch of the mainly beech forest that isn't covered by moss or silver ferns. Healthy brown trout are clearly visible in the transparent azure tinted streams. Powerful waterfalls and crystal clear streams afford wonderful sweet refreshing water."Do you feel like you achieved something personal today mate" the question came from the Simpson's who live just outside of Auckland. We'd been hiking together all morning. We were taking a breather after climbing a stiff vertical hand over hand rope detour necessitated by a recent avalanche which blocked a portion of the trail. Walking with up to 40 hikers a day, every day of the October to March prime season adds up to thousands of nature fans trekking over these trails every year. The hikers do not step along the track in a solid 50 person group. You walk at your own pace although you do have to complete each section in the prescribed day. I usually found that I joined small groups of one to four hikers walking at a similar pace. A good part of the time you find yourself striding along the banks of the Arthur River alone, soaking in the exceptional alpine scenery while listening to the soothing drone of chattering black cicadas.
The area can't boast about a great variety of wildlife. If you are hoping to see the famous kiwi in the wild you'll probably disappointed. You will have occasional encounters with a cheeky bush hen or an equally curious but rather dowdy dark gray bush robin . The pesky parrot like kea that will tear apart anything that you leave unattended outside at night. Day three a 21km walk along the Clinton River provides the option of a 5km bonus stroll to nearby Sutherland Falls. I joined a small group to take advantage of this excursion and participated in the wet ritual of venturing behind the base of this thundering 630 m high waterfall. We were a little late for dinner returning from the falls, but the sights sounds and tastes of this experience made a lasting impression.
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 13 Jan, 2011
Fiordland Sounds are really fiords: just like the Norwegian ones, but possibly even more beautiful and certainly harder to get. Two of the fiords can be accessed normally by tourists:- - Milford Sound is accessible by road, in theory all year round, but in practice…Read More
Fiordland Sounds are really fiords: just like the Norwegian ones, but possibly even more beautiful and certainly harder to get. Two of the fiords can be accessed normally by tourists:- - Milford Sound is accessible by road, in theory all year round, but in practice the road is closed for several days each winter and early spring due to avalanche dangers. -- Doubtful Sound is accessible by daily excursions that leave from Manapouri Lake and take the visitors across the lake, then on the coach across Wilmot Pass to the Deep Cove harbour, and then on a boat. Other sounds can be accessed by private charter boat only (from the sea), sea plane or seen when walking some of the long distance tramping paths (Dusky Track for Dusky Sound). Close