Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Hump Ridge Track

This weekend Lauren and I headed off for Fiordland, to do our first of hopefully many tramping trips. I chose the Hump Ridge Track. It is in the southern corner of the Fiordland area, and looked to have an amazing variety of terrain and beautiful views. What I did not fully research was the distance we would have to travel everyday. Tramping (Backpacking) in NZ is predominantly done by walking between huts rather than carrying a tent and hitting "sites" between days. This means there is a set distance you have to travel every day. On the Hump Ridge Track this distance was about 19 kilometers a day (12 miles), a little ambitious for an area we knew very little about, but it was absolutely amazing.

We drove to Tuatapere Friday night and stayed at a backpackers hostel, before starting the trail in the morning

We hoisted up our pants, had a quick snack and set off for Okaka Hut that morning with high hopes. From the car, the trail enters a seemingly tropical rain forest (except it is cold).

We exited the forest at the mouth of the Waikaou River and crossed a really cool swing bridge.

we continued 3k down a beautiful beach, totally undeveloped with the exception with a few fishing huts.

more bridges

After leaving the beach we headed up and up and up. I don't have any photos because the climb was really long and hard, and by the time we had traveled the 5k of uphill it was to dark to shoot. and all I wanted was food and sleep. But the forest we traveled, was amazing. When we topped out there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We pounded back some cheesy noodles and and crashed.

We started off along the ridge the next morning with shaky legs. Overnight rain had melted much of the snow, so the boardwalks were clear. The ridge was engulfed in clouds and mist giving it an ethereal quality that was beautiful.

The trees at this altitude were small, but really cool. Like a forest of bonsai.

My dad let Lauren borrow his 8 year-old rain pants. I guess mountain hardware is recycling colors cuz that is a sweet get-up.

Lauren discovers the camel-back

the boardwalks on the ridge reminded me of the Great Wall

Later the clouds burned off and we were rewarded with some beautiful weather and great views

snow evaporating off the ridge

After descending off the ridge we passed over three old viaducts, the later is the longest wooden viaduct in the southern hemisphere.

the second night was spent at an old school house that has been converted into a tramping hut. We got there after dark, but on the trail before the hut there were undercut banks and small caves that were filled with glow worms. When you cut off your headlamp they make the walls of the trail look create little universes. And since I left my headlamp at the last hut, I got a great view.

Lauren in the morning at Port Craig Schoolhouse Hut

Port Craig Schoolhouse Hut

Morning in front of the hut

Lauren starting off the last day through the fern forests

Just a small sample of the mud present on 2/3rds of the trail. It got as deep as mid calf. Gaiters are an essential part of tramping in New Zealand.

We passed over many creeks that empty into the ocean.

Blowhole beach was beautiful, except it was swarming with sandflys. they are little bigger than nats, but leave a bite that is a mix between a mosquito and a horsefly.

we got out just after dark, got burgers and I drove the 4 hours back to Dunedin. After 36 miles in 3 days I only drove 2 blocks in the wrong lane once.

1 comment:

  1. Totally awesome trip and photos. You are my buff heroes!