23.-25.02.10, Routeburn Track with Ulitimate Hikes
Queenstown – Te Anau – The Divide – Lake Mackenzie Lodge, 13km, 5-6 hrs.
Your adventure begins with a coach ride from Queenstown to the Divide on the scenic Milford Road, topping at Te Anau for morning tea. You will climb the wide and well formed track from the Divide to the optional ascent of Key Summit. Here you can sit among the alpine plants and gaze down three valleys from which water flows to three different coasts. You then descend to Lake Howden hut for a hot drink and picnic lunch, before gradually climbing through lush silver beech forest to the base of Earland Falls, quite a sight in wet weather! You will look over the Hollyford Valley to the ice capped Darren Mountains before descending to the splendid lodge at Lake Mackenzie where refreshments, a hot shower, three course meal and a comfortable bed are waiting.
Lake Mackenzie Lodge – Harris Saddle – Routburn Falls Lodge, 15km, 5-7 hrs.
You leave the ancient forest draped in moss and lichen and enter the world of daisies, buttercups, gentians and edelweiss. Here you have a full vista of the Darren Mountains across the Hollyford Valley, which slices through Fiordland to the distant Tasman Sea at Martin’s Bay. After lunch at the Harris Saddle, you can ascend Conical Hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks. After walking around Lake Harris you descend into the upper basins of the Routeburn Valley, with the towering mountains above. Spend your final night at the beautifully located Routeburn Falls Lodge where you will be treated to a special celebrationary dinner.
Routburn Falls Lodge – Glenorchy – Queenstown, 10km, 3-4 hrs.
Take time to enjoy the dramatic landscape around the Falls, before descending to the alpine pastures of the Routeburn Flats. Your guides may take the scenic route through the meadows and find the deepest green pool for you to picnic beside. The track shadows the river as it roars through a magnificent gorge before plunging beneath the unyielding rocks at the Sump. From here it is a gentle walk through the beech forest to the Road End. A coach will take you back to Queenstown, stopping at the small town of Glenorchy for refreshments on the way.
I am back in Queenstown now after hiking the Routeburn Track. Everything went well. There were 24 in the group, including several elderly people so I was not the slowest even when I started slowly in the morning. People would overtake me but then go too fast and have to slow down or stop soon afterwards. The weather was super on the first day and awful on the second when we were at the highest point. We could not see anything in the distance and could have been in Switzerland or Scotland. It is more interesting and different from Europe lower down in the jungle. The trees are amazing, all covered in moss and hanging lichen, real Lord of the Rings stuff. The lodges provided for guided groups are brand new from last year and quite luxurious. The food was also very good. The group was not all American this time, there were also Australians and New Zealanders.
This morning the rain stopped just as we were leaving and we were able to look at the waterfalls just by the hut again in sunshine. There was lots of water still coming down because of the previous day’s rain. Some of us then hurried to catch a jet boat ride on the Dart river, which was very enjoyable and even better than the one on the Wilkin river. Then after a farewell lunch we drove to Queenstown where I am just going to dinner with a couple who were on the walk.