Great Walk: Kepler Track

Deutsche Version:

Hier bin ich wieder heil und unversehrt! 3,5 Tage war ich auf dem Kepler-Track unterwegs in der off season und bin gerade gestern wieder gekommen. Ei war das schoen! Und weils so schoen war ist der Beitrag auch umso laenger, leider bisher auch noch ohne Bilder, welche aber, wie im letzten Beitrag bereits geschrieben, noch folgen werden! Hier kann erstmal der Wortlaut nachgelesen werden.
Morgen gehts dann auf zum Routeburn-Track was genauso schoen werden kann, auch wenn ich auf diesem nur 2 Naechte bleiben werde. Aber Schnee ist fuers WE auch zu erwarten worauf ich mich tierisch freue. Ich hoffe ein paar wunderschoene Landschaftsbilder zu schiessen wie es auch fuer den Kepler schon passiert ist (insgesamt rund 200 Bilder). Anschliessend gibt es dann den Greenstone-Track zurueck nach Te Anau. Das ganze wird dann wohl 6 bis 7 Tage in Anspruch nehmen, also werde ich die naechste Woche ueber nicht online sein, es sei denn ich habe noch ne Nacht in Kinloch zwischen den Tracks, aber man rechne lieber nicht damit. Bis demnaechst!

English Version:

After I arrived in Te Anau – alas, without a couch – I checked into the Lakefront Backpackers in, where I stood for 2 nights to plan everything ahead and get a good rest right before the track. As I heard during this time frame, the transportation to the Milford Track would cost me 180 Dollar, hence the track is another forfeited one… But! I found a good replacement, namely the Nelson Lakes, which is backcountry terrain and a 5 days track. It will probably follow during the next 3 weeks.

However, back to the main point of this post. I did the track anticlockwise as most of the people and started my way at 9 am from the Hostel to reach the Luxmore Hut, which took me in total 5 hours. The first stage up to Broad Bay was just a simple and even forest walk. The forest itself is comparable with the one on Stewart Island – simply beautiful! Around 11 I stood at the foot of the mountain and the way up their was kinda exhausting, for I have to regain my strength again. Plus I had a lot to eat with me (all unnecessary things were left in the Hostel), so the weight of my Backpack pulled me down to earth again. The way itself wasn’t that steep, for which numerous of serpentine’s were responsible for. Nevertheless did it take me 2,5 hours to the forest boundary and a huge tussock field made up it’s way on a more even ground. From there on it was only another 30 minutes to reach the Hut, but before I came there I did heaps of photographs. The view from up there was just amazing. To be seen on the link in the German description (unfortunately uploading the photographs still takes some time).

With reaching the Hut I planned to go to the nearby limestone caves but my batteries for my head torch were too low to see something in the dark. Therefore I met 2 Americans and 1 Welsh guy who helped me out with spare batteries. Together we got to the cave then and had a lot of fun down there. Some parts were really narrow and small so that one can only pass them in Gollum-style or when ones slim. In total it probably reaches up to more than 400 meters deep into the mountain.

Back in the Hut it was dinner time! I bought for the first time something from the backcountry food for which you just have to add boiling water. In my case it was some mashed potatoes for 3,69$ which was totally worth it. It tasted very good and lasted long! Other stuff is quite expensive but in my opinion worth it as well. We had a good fire going, which heated the big room a bit up. Hence all of the tenants (around 15), brought there mattresses down from the Bunkroom to the living room and slept there. Everyone except of myself. I preferred to have my nap in the 4 degrees cold Bunkroom and it was nice and cosy in my sleeping bag =).
The next morning was really beautiful even as clouds came by from the west over the mountains and brought wind and snow (but just later the day). I made my way as the first one, around quarter to nine, to use the good weather and get some nice photographs from Mt. Luxmore summit. As I did go up and time passed by, more and more snow on the way encountered me. I really do love snow and I felt like a small child awaiting a huge present right before I left. At some parts snow could accumulate up to the knee, most of the time, especially on the downwind side of the track, it just reached above the feet. One and a half hours later I reached the summit, but the weather got worse. Strong winds and snow, as much as clouds veiled my sight down into the valley. After waiting a couple of minutes a cloud gap opened up so that I could at least get a glimpse of the surroundings. Nevertheless did I set forth and made my way to the first emergency shelter, approximately 30 minutes past the summit. On the weather face of the track one really had to be cautious. The winds blew even heavier there, so that I really had to grab a hold if I don’t want to be blown off the cliff.
By the way wasn’t I really cold. I had four layers of clothes for my upper body which protected me well and held my temperature constant, so that even my hands stood warm for the whole time, despite the fact that I didn’t carry any gloves.
With reaching the shelter I took just a small break for some snacks, and as I made my way to the next one I payed some attention to the Geology on the way. I discovered a really brittle environment and rocks from the type of Limestone, Gneiss, Granite, and Diorite. The latter kinda bugged me because it didn’t seem to fit in. But nevertheless it inspired me to spent some time and research the Geology around New Zealand more, as soon as I have the chance to. On Stewart Island I was recommended a good book, for just 60 Dollars called „A continent on the move“. Before I leave I will definitely buy it.
The next quest would be passing the crests which were pretty narrow and not even two meters wide. Left and right where just huge chasms which I definitely didn’t want to see closer^^. I could just go pretty slow, but steady, for the winds pushed hard on me, and the snow up there was thick and icy on the top. But 45 minutes later I reached the second shelter. From there on it was only another 2 hours down to the Iris Burn Hut. So far the best experience and my first alpine and snow track!
I used every gap in the clouds to make some photographs and some self-portraits as well. As I reached the forest-boundary the weather and the track got better. There was snow in the forest but not as much as on the mountain tops. It was a nice and pleasant walk down to the Hut even if it was a quite long walk, did not expect that in the beginning of my descending. Reaching the Iris Burn Hut first thing to do was starting a fire, which was fairly easy, for we had good and dry firewood. Second thing would be something to eat, some Pasta with tomato sauce and Tuna! Yummy =).

It snowed all during the night, so that in the morning I got surprised for a 10 cm thick layer of the white glory. After breakfast I did a walk to the Iris Burn Falls but the forest was the most beautiful thing right there. These symbiosis between the lively and juicy moss in different green shades and the white thick snow was just gorgeous. A real positive feeling flashed me while I walked through it. Back in the Hut a Kea made it’s appearance and it came really close to me like 10 cm which enabled me to do some really cute close up pictures. Totally cute. In general do the birds of New Zealand not really seem to be afraid of humans but more curious about them.

Subsequently I took my leave to reach the next Hut which was just 4 hours down east. I could’ve made it back to Te Anau this very day, but I didn’t intend to, I have time and want to enjoy my journey =). But reaching this I ascertain that the firewood leftovers are really damp, right to the core. Very hard to get a fire started and it needed a lot of care. But even after 2 hours of successfully burning some small twigs it died out on me and wasn’t even able to heat up the room a little. At least I tried. The night was rather cold and my clothes still were a bit wet for my sweating during the walk. The next day I decided henceforth to hitch hike back to Te Anau from the rainbow beach, instead of walking the whole way back. I would have but the forest itself was pretty cold and so was I. I din’t want to risk a cold or something more worse. After spending some time on the street I finally got picked up by a guy I met in Franz-Josef. He was from Luxembourg and recognized me on the street while he was bounded south and turned around for me to drive me to Te Anau. Really nice of him! Around half past 11 I reached the Hostel and took a nice hot shower :D.

Tomorrow I will make my way to the Routeburn-Track and the Greenstone than back to Te Anau. It’ll probaly take me 6 to 7 days, good weather apply. I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait, especially since I know that it should snow on my second day up there =). I will have a lot of fun I suppose!

See you soon!

Vagabond =)


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