Great Walk: Routeburn + Greenstone Track

Deutsche Version:

Nun bin ich wieder da und hier folgt auch schon ohne grosse Umschweife der neue Beitrag, welcher mein laengster bis dato sein sollte. Liest sich aber schnell^^. Ich versuche die Bilder in den naechsten zwei Tagen in Queenstown upzudaten und dann wuerde ich eine separate Nachricht verfassen, wenn das geschehen ist.
Meine weiteren Plaene sehen nun wie folgt aus: Job finden, und zum ‚Gaunt Creek‚ an der Westkueste fahren um mir die alpine Stoerung anzusehen, dort wo die australische und die pazisfische Platte aufeinandertreffen. Ein Schmankerl fuer Geologen. Anschliessend will ich nach Hokitika – ebenfalls an der Westkueste – und wenn ich bis dato keine Jobzusage bekommen habe, mache ich die Nelson Lakes 5-Tageswanderung und werde mich wohl auf die Nordinsel begeben. Bis dahin!

Englisch Version:

After the quite challenging Kepler Track (see previous post), I was really eager to do the 5 to 6 day Routeburn and Greenstone Track Tour as a loop, so that I would go back to Te Anau again.

For that I had to hitch hike to the 85 km aloof lying beginning along the road to the Milford Sound. It was quite harsh and it took me 2,5 hours till someone stopped for me. Coincidentally two Germans picked me up and had quite some nice stories to tell.
Reaching the Divide from where the Track starts I got up the mountain right away. The weather was beautiful so I decided to take the little detour to the key summit, an alpine plateau from where off you have an excellent view about the Hollyford-Valley and the surrounding Mountains, as well as parts of the Routeburn-Track. From up there it was just another 15 minutes to reach the first Hut, namely the Lake Howden Hut, which is just around 4 k’s apart from the start. I decided to stay there for the night, it was already 3 pm and we had firewood, though the next Hut (McKenzie), was just 3 hours off (DOC time). Had a good night and read a lot of Lord of the Rings which I bought in Queenstown, right before I got to Te Anau.
With the next morning, clouds came by, but so far the weather was stable all day. It took me 2 hours to the next Hut and from there one began the alpine section, up to Harris Saddle and back down into the Routeburn Valley. My plan for this day was to reach the last Hut, the Routeburn Flats Hut, which lay 22 km apart from the Lake Howden Hut (The Routeburn Track is 32 km long). The actual alpine section turned out to be not that hard as the one with the Kepler. Straight and good paths, with little snow and ice on the ground. Plus we had no snow coming from the top and the wind was quite easy as well. 2,5 hours instead 3,5 to Harris Saddle. On my way I got some very good glimpses over the Hollyford-Valley. I could even see the distant Fjord and the Tasman Sea behind that. Sometimes the sun came out for some seconds and illuminated the forest down in the valley and gave the clouds different hues in colour.
Past the Harris Saddle I encountered the Harris Lake, which I didn’t really expected, for I hadn’t had much information about the Routeburn. Was quite nice but more spectacular was the actual view about the upcoming valley, though the distant was still a bit foggy and dizzy. I reckon I don’t have to tell the world that I made quite some breaks for photographs =).
1,5 hours down to the next Hut it took me and I reached the Routeburn Falls Hut, which is just half an hour apart from my final destination for this track. Reaching this after 7 hours of walking and finding just damp and wet wood was a bit depressing. But nevertheless tried I my best to get a fire starting, but it wouldn’t work out until two Czechs came by and find us some dry wood.

The next day was just a shit day. It began to rain in the night which lasted till 2 pm the next day. I postponed my plans to reach the Greenstone Track for this day and decided to stay another night. I am relying on hitch hiking to reach it in one day, and with such a weather no one would pick up a wet tramper, plus there wouldn’t be anyone to be expected outside as well.
The distance from the End of the Routeburn Track to the beginning of the Greenstone Track is roughly 30 k’s but there are 12 additional k’s to walk till you reach the first Hut of the Track. Too much to walk by myself. But for the day after the rain I did as much as possible. I got two rides which could carry me just little. In total around 12 k’s. Therefore I had to walk quite fast, though it were really enjoyable conditions. Sun was out, blue sky, beautiful nature and no time to relish and relax… I reached the beginning of the track around 2 pm. Just in time to start it and reach the Hut right before dusk. I could just take a five-minutes break to recover my body again and catch some breath. So far really exhausting. I walked around 4 to 5 k’s an hour. The rest of the days trip was fairly easy, for the track itself is pretty even won’t go up and down again. Only when it gets down to the pastures, it gets muddy and wet. But regardless of that I had to carry on and reached the Hut 2,5 hours after starting – utterly exhausted. Fortunately the fire was already burning well. Two Kiwi boys were there who did the good deed. Hence I could just focus on preparing my first meal for the day (I skipped breakfast for the sake of reaching the track before dusk). I was reaaaaaaally hungry and my stomach yearned for a reward!
Mashed potatoes from the Backcountry food, with a bit of salami and scrambled eggs from the Backcountry was my meal. So good! Really worth the small expanses. Around 900 grams of mashed potatoes are filling you up; it tastes good as well. Following that I just took the relaxation I couldn’t get during my trip and read Lord of the Rings with candlelight, a nice crackling fire and a warm room + a good and hot tea for my utmost pleasure. Nothing could have been better at this time of the day!

The next step on the Greenstone Track would be the McKellar Hut which lies 18 km ahead on even ground but muddy and wet on pastures as previous mentioned. The day was okay, for it rained just little (before I reached the Hut) and one could see some landscapes when the Track drops off the forest. 4,5 hours later I reached the Hut as the first person and started a fire right away with firewood in good conditions. Later on two Americans dropped by who would do the full circuit (Caples and Greenstone Track) anticlockwise. It was then, when the rain really hit hard, long and enduring. I decided to stay another night if it does not clear up the following day – and it didn’t. Same problem here as with my extra night in the Routeburn Flats Hut. Back to the Divide it was just another 3 hours and I rely on hitch hiking. It was no problem, for I still had more than enough supplies with me. Most of the time reading Lord of the Rings (what else could have been done?) and have an eye on the fire, which served me well.
The seventh day then, was still a bit rainy, but than I had to depart and try my best to reach Te Anau. 1,5 hours back to Lake Howden Hut (where I spent my first night on the Routeburn) and 45 minutes down to the Divide.
It was really hard to catch a ride. Barely any cars coming from Milford Sound, which was to be expected for this kind of weather, but finally after 2 hours waiting, freezing and getting slightly depressed my saviors stopped and carried me to my Hostel. I really enjoyed the time with Tony from Gibraltar and his french girlfriend. So far the most pleasant ride I ever had. Both of them travel around the world for 10 years already and had much to say, and I much to ask. I would really like to see them again. Who knows, New Zealand is small =).

That’s the time when my adventure ended – but stop! It can’t be ending without a good long hot shower! Right, and it didn’t =). As a reward I promised myself to get my ass to a Pizzeria and feast for the day! I reckon I deserved it, ain’t I?

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