My fall into spring

We’re back home in the Adirondacks.  There’s still some snow on the ground and the rivers and lakes are high.  Our last three weeks in New Zealand were pushing into fall and we were in the southern most part of the South Island.  We enjoyed coal stoves in the huts and the heater in our camper van.  We flew from cold fall to cold spring.  But there’s hope for things warming up.  I heard frogs and pheasants and saw turkeys and a bluebird.  The gig is up for the deer though.  I think they have been hanging around the house while we were away. When we were eating dinner the other night, four walked onto the driveway and looked at us as if they were thinking, “what are you doing here?”

Unfortunately, my camera died when we were just taking the boat to the Milford Track’s starting point in New Zealand. So all my photos were taken on my phone.  I brought two cameras and a phone to Deal Island just in case. My new Nikon camera developed a dark spot in the center of every picture.  The Olympus camera’s pop out lens got stuck for the fourth time.  The Nikon is still under warranty, and miraculously I found the paperwork and will send that in.  The Olympus was under a Geek Squad contract and has had three strikes and I am finally entitled to a new camera.  The camera broke on March 27, my contract expired April 8 and I brought it in April 11!!  I pled my case to a sympathetic manager and was granted a new camera.  Woohoo!  I still can’t find my keys and have combed all our bags and the house.  There’s a slim chance I packed them in the box I shipped on the slow boat from Tasmania.  It may get here in a couple of months.  I don’t even remember what I had keys for.  Miraculously, I remembered the combination to the post office box though; not with my mind, with my hands.  Interesting.

These pictures are from the first walk, the Milford Track, one of the finest walks in the world.  We spent 4 days, walking 43.5 kms.  At night, we slept in huts with 40 other hikers.  We were lucky to only have rain one day.  I didn’t cry.

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Journey home

Our two or three day journey begins today. We spent our last night in the camper van at the Christchurch airport. We fly to Auckland today, LA then NY tomorrow and will get to spend Sunday night in Brooklyn. We’ll run errands on Long Island then drive home on Tuesday.  What a long, great trip it’s been.Christchurch campsite
My sense of humor remains the same.  I took a picture of this town name on my last day in NZ last year.  Not a good food association.Te Puke, NZ

Day tripping

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We took a day hike in Mount Cook National Park on a perfect day with beautiful views.  Two rangers recommended it to us as “easy” with fabulous views of Mount Cook and the glacial valley.

Well, if you climb high enough, everything is beautiful. And climb we did. Straight up boulders and timber stairs. For two hours. There is something about getting to the top that makes it better.
I guess it is about getting there.

Besides there aren’t many tramping options. This park is for serious mountain climbers with all the gear. People fall off the cliffs with some regularity.
We heard and saw two avalanches and Tim watched a glacier calve.

Our view

Lord of the rings?

Our last day on the Milford Track was a bit of a slog.  We had a boat to catch, our longest walk, 11 miles, in the rain and met a local celebrity along the way.  Maybe. I thought he was a sweet old man on the track who I hadn’t slept with.  (I slept with our group of forty hikers for three nights).

He was very helpful and told us where we were most likely to slip on the wet rocks and fall off a cliff into the Arthur River.  Then he told us to stop because he was going to make a loud noise.

He pulled a ram’s horn out of his pack and blew into it.  The echo reverberated for nine seconds in the canyon.  He tod us he made the horns for the movie and helped rock climbers set up the cameras. Then he walked with me for about a mile.  Later, Tim pointed out  he wasn’t wearing any pants.  He did have gaiters on though.
.Mitre Peak

Post Milford Track

We are relaxing after our four day, 33  mile walk on the Milford Sound. We experienced two days of rain and debated the meaning of the forecast: showers clearing or showers, clearing.  Either way, we got wet.  

I didn’t tackle side trips so opted  not to climb McKinnon Pass, elevation 1000+ meters, when the sky was clear the day before we really had to climb it. It was clouded over by the time I got there the next day and then we had to climb down it.

Naturally, my camera broke for good on the boat ride across Lake Te Anau en route to the start of the walk and I was left with only my phone.

We slept in huts with 38 other walkers.  I won a top bunk most nights, which was a challenge to get out of in the middle of the night.  I am looking forward to the Routeburn Track, where we get to share a bed with eight other people.  But tonight, a hot shower, glass of wine, private bed and lots of ibuprofen.

RainbowMcKinnon Pass

Away we go

We are heading out for the first of our two long walks.  The first on the Milford track, from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound, will take four days to travel about 50 kms.  

The brochure says to expect rain one day but it looks like we hit the jackpot and may get wet three days. Then the weather should be “mainly fine” during the five days on the Routeburn track. We bought all our food and will drop half at the start of the walk.  I won’t be writing about these meals.
Lake Te Anau

If this Wednesday, it must be Te Anau

Our travel pace has quickened. We saw five cities and towns in five days.  We are among people and germs  again and we both caught colds.  We saw Launceston, Hobart, Auckland, Queenstown and Te Anau, where we are poised  to begin our walk on the Milford Track.    

We littered New Zealand with our stuff.  We downsized in Auckland and left our huge duffel bags.  We left a change of clothes in Queenstown.  Now we have the clothes on our backs and a spare set…for the next fourteen days. I’ve learned not to care when camping because I do not want to carry the weight of extra clothes.  So much for my sense of style.  I did bring a spare set of earrings, however.

It will be enough to carry all this delicious freeze dried food.

Freeze dried food

Hello New Zealand

We flew over the Bass Strait yesterday and saw Deal Island out the window. Now we are in beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand where planes, helicopters and hang gliders are constantly flying overhead.

I hope we will leave this behing when we hike the Milford and Routeburn tracks over the next couple of weeks. I look forward to Lord of the Ring vistas. I spoke with guides here an there are no snakes, leeches or toxic spiders.

I guess the main challenge will be getting over the mountain passes.