This weekend the Betsy Trouble Squad did the Milford Track. We were hesitant to go at first because there had been a rockslide on one of the roads the week before and the avalanche risk was high because it was still offseason. After hearing positive things from the DOC center we decided to do it.
We took a boat over Lake Te Anau to get to the beginning of the Milford Track. We only hiked 4.8 km the first day, walking along a river until we reached the Glade House, our first hut. There were other people doing the track at the same time: a group of American structural engineers working in Christchurch after the earthquake, and a couple of kiwis. The first night in the, the whole group of us ended up playing spoons together, except for me, because I was content in reading Game of Thrones instead of playing. Each time people lost they had to do a dare. The funniest one by far is when six people lost, and as a consequence they had to crowd into the one stall bathroom together. For dinner that night we made veggie fried rice, delicious!
The next day we hiked 16 km, making our way through a valley surrounded by tall rock walls dotted with waterfalls. We stopped frequently to take pictures of the green-blue rivers and the marshland. It began to rain in the last two hours of our hike, so we powered through the remainder of the track. There were areas that indicated dangers of rock fall, so we hurried by those, ushered on by the rain. It continued to pour non-stop when we got to the hut. That night we stayed in the Mintaro Hut, warming ourselves by a small stove fire. We spent most of our time in our sleeping bags, alternating between playing cards and cuddling for warmth. For dinner that night we made quesadillas (cheesy tortes as I like to call them) with beans, salami, and cheese.
On a brief side note, on the trip, using my impeccable broken Japanese accent, I created an alter ego named Yuki.
Yuki came up with small zen poems and stories to pass the time.
‘Plump boys make the savouriest dumplings’
‘If you listen to the trees, you will hear the wisdom that they have to share…… I guess they don’t have anything to share today.’
It rained all night and into the morning, so the next day we we’re feeling optimistic about the weather. We had a 14km hike ahead of us, climbing up the mountain and through Mackinnon pass to make our way over to the Dumpling Hut. When we started on the trail, the rain ended up being only a light drizzle.
As we gained altitude, snow began to appear all around us. We had to be careful where we put our feet, because many puddles and streams were hidden by the snow.
On our way up the mountain we witnessed a huge avalanche pouring down another mountainside. It was beautiful and terrifying to watch. It didn’t faze us too much, so we carried onwards to the pass. We stopped for lunch on the pass and then continued down the emergency route into the valley. The wind began to pick up, which only made it colder, but we eventually made it below the tree line, where we were pretty much sheltered from the rain and wind. I had my trail swag (aka bunny ears) on for most of the hike, so I felt right as rain despite any questionable weather.
The rest of the walk was made up of more waterfalls and bright green foliage. We followed the river all the way to the Dumpling Hut, passing by the Sutherland Falls, the 5th tallest waterfall in the world!
The last night in Dumpling Hut we made delicious pasta with salami, cheese, and tomato sauce. Surprisingly, I ate much better on the Milford track than I had been at home.
The last day we had a 19km hike to finish the track, but it was all on level ground along the river. We made really good time along that trail. After lunch, I began to go at my own pace, walking by myself for the last 8 or so km of the track. It was a very different experience, walking, lost in thought and reflecting on the beautiful scenery.
We took a small boat to the car park at the end of the track. We took a bus from there back to Te Anau, and drove back to Dunedin from there. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen, and one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m so glad I went, and with such great people too!