Am vertical, back on two feet and away from the cakes on the Routeburn track. It’s another of the group of New Zealand’s Great Walks and deservedly so. At 32km it’s one of the shorter trails in the series but makes up for it in variety.
How long you spend on the track is up to you. I opted to do it over three days to take in some side trips as well. It’s not uncommon for people to complete it in a day or even just run it for fun. As it happens I met people on the trail who did a car swap with another couple who were running the track. As it’s not a loop, they swapped their cars and started at opposite end of the track, swapping keys when they met in person along the way.
The first afternoon I got as far as Routeburn Fall Hut about 9km along. The track to this point in mainly in forest along the Routeburn river before starting to climb to the edge of the bushline, passing waterfalls and giving some mountain and valley views as you go. However my favourite views were at night. As it’s so cold and frosty the sky was crystal clear.
Day two was easily the most impressive part of the track as it takes you across the highest point at Harris Saddle (1255m) overlooking Harris Lake. Getting there has it’s own rewards too, through wetlands and tussock. On this day the remnants of the recent snowfall was evident with mountains looking like dandruff shoulders in parts. What was tricky at times to negotiate was the frozen icy track. There were a few slips but not falls! Boy what views though – the world looks better in white sometimes!
Then it was time to head down the other side of the saddle to Lake Mackenzie Hut, my home for the night. Am getting used to life in a hut. You never know just who will be there. In this case my peace was shattered when a group of 17 young scouts turned up not long after we arrived. You could visibly read the expression on the face of the other hikers!
Woke up early at Lake Mackenzie, might have something to do with 17 scouts making their porridge and milo. Was rewarded with sunrise on the mountains and some still waters for reflections on the lake.
There is only 12km remaining on the track from the hut. It’s a gradual descent through beech forest passing the impressive Earland Falls. And how is this for a rainbow? The closest I have ever been to one, came around the corner and it was there, 30m in front of me dancing through the waterfall. A real smilemaker 🙂 But the fun wasn’t over check out the view from Key Summit.
Yes, you are right – I loved this track.