Rakiura Track, Day 1: Oban to Port William Hut

Rakiura Track_Day 1

We wake up in Invercargill at 5:30 am to finish packing and eat a quick breakfast. Our ferry out of Bluff isn’t until 9:30, but we are hoping we can squeeze in a little time to photograph the tui birds that are hanging out at the B&B’s feeders. We are headed to Stewart Island, New Zealand’s “third island,” where we hear that there are far more birds than people. Sounds like our kind of place! (more…)

Ringing in the New Year, New Zealand Style!

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After finishing the Kepler Track, we have a day and a half to drive from Te Anau down to Bluff, the southern most town on the South Island where will catch a ferry to Stewart Island, the location of our last Great Walk, the Rakiura Track. Our end destination today is the tiny town of Tuatepere which we picked as a midpoint between Te Anau and Invercargill (just north of Bluff). (more…)

Kepler Track, Day 2: Moturau Hut to Iris Burn Campsite

Kepler Track, Day 2

I wake up to a swollen eye and wonder if one of New Zealand’s pesky sand flies chomped on me during the night. Hopefully, it will go away before too long, but I feel a little dread as I have had such bad reactions to bug bites lately. Ughh…

We have a lazy 9 am departure and begin our day back at the beach of Shallow Bay. The skies look a little dark and moody as we set off, and we wonder if we have some rain in store ahead. From the beach, we follow the lakeshore for a bit before ducking back  into the mossy beech forest carpeted in lush green ferns for the 16.2-kilometer relatively flat tramp to the Iris Burn campsite. (more…)

Kepler Track, Day 1: Te Anau to Moturau Hut

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According to Lonely Planet, the Kepler Track was originally developed as an alternative  hike to help ease the demand for reservations on the South Island’s highly popular Milford and Routeburn Tracks. The label alternative may lead you to believe that this hike is somehow inferior to its more famous siblings, but don’t let that fool you. The Kepler Track is a beauty of a tramp in its own right. (more…)

Routeburn Track, Day 2: Lake Mackenzie Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut

Routeburn Track, Day 2

So it turns out that sleeping in a room with two dozen or so other people doesn’t necessarily produce the best night of sleep. Go figure! Matt says that a man a few beds down from us started screaming in his sleep in the middle of the night. His wife settled him down. Somehow, I manage to sleep through that, but, as soon as the first hiker in the room starts to stir, I am wide awake. I play possum for a while hoping to will myself back to sleep, but there’s no hope. (more…)