New Zealand

February 2006


New Zealand

New Zealand ~ February 2006 - From top left: Lake Te Anau, Thunder Creek Falls, Kings Point on Tasman Sea, Lake Manapouri, Steward Island, Riverton Beach, Frenchman's Bay, Lake Te Anau, Hawks Crag, Routeburn Track, Abel Tasman, Farewell Spit Lighthouse. Read the trip report including the bests, equipment, and expenses.

Steward Island

Steward Island ~ Best Kiwi Tale - Although everywhere in NZ I enjoyed the polite laid-back style of the Kiwis, but when on Steward Island I tried to book the DOC guided tour to Ulva Island to view native birds. It was 5 PM and the DOC person said they needed four for the next morning's trip, that I was the first, and that they close at 7 PM. So I decided to go to plan B - have a beer and decide later. At 6:30 PM I was at a pub having another good beer with dinner when the staff approached me asking "Are you Herb? You have a phone call." My first thought was somebody died, but I realized that absolutely nobody knew I was there. The phone call was from the DOC center explaining that they had three others looking for a forth for the Ulva Island tour. Only in NZ would someone phone all the lodgings asking if they had a tall, single, male, American in a red T-shirt. When they knew my name, they started calling all the pubs until they found me. So the next morning I very much enjoyed the expertise of the DOC guide to Ulva Island.

Riverton Beach

Riverton Beach - On my New Zealand travels I spent a day in the town of Riverton, and very nice indeed. While there, the skies were clear and the weather was warm, so this southern coastal town was at it peak. I had two very good meals here, the first was a lunch at the Beach House Cafe which overlooks the bay, and that evening I traveled to nearby Colac for dinner at the Colac Bay Beach Bar which overlooks the Foveaux Strait to Steward Island. The time in between, I strolled the beach which, rather than sand, had silver-dollar sized cobble stones reminiscent of the Riviera - maybe that is why Riverton is advertised as the Riviera of NZ.

Relaxing on Beach

Riverton Beach - A nice place to relax.

Lake Te Anau

Lake Te Anau - Te Anau is my favorite tourist town, adjoining the lake it is named after. The town is relatively small, has a wide variety of restaurants, and is a hub for a multitude of adventure activity. Besides the power-@#%$ stuff I don't do, Te Anau is adjacent to Fiordland, was the starting point for my tramp on the Kepler track, was my base for my kayak trip to Doubtful Sound kayak, and will ultimately be my base when I get back to do the Milford track. The day I arrived the sky let loose with rain, so I thought I'd see a movie. The theater was something that could only survive in Te Anau - the seats were wide and comfortable like airline first class, each had its own private table, and they concessioned beer and wine and real food. I learned the theater was originally build to show an up close and personal film of Fiordland which was shot by the owners, definitely worth the NZ$10 price.

Lake Manapouri Sunset

Lake Manapouri Sunset ~ On Kepler Track - A 4 day 67km tramp. The 1st day I tramped along Lake Te Anau through forest and then climbed past limestone bluffs and then above tree line to open views of the lake and its South Fiord arm. Soon I reached the Luxmoore Hut and its commanding views. The 2nd day my tramp was in the clouds with moderate wind, but no rain. The path rose to a high ridge walk (1450m) with a pair of warming huts separated by two hours distance. Once on the ridge I had commanding views, first of Lake Te Anau and later of Lake Manapouri. After the second warming hut, I descended rapidly via stairs and then switchbacks through forest to the Iris Burn Hut (450m). On the 3rd day I tramped an easy 17 km to the Lake Manapouri Hut complete with sandy beaches. It was a fine evening with whiffs of clouds in the background and a colorful sunset. Sunrise the next morning was even better. My day out ended at Rainbow Swing Bridge.

Routeburn River

Routeburn Track ~ Best Tramp - The Routeburn day tramp (from Glenorchy) to the Routeburn Falls Hut was easily my favorite. The track climbed through a lush forest over easy to walk peaty soil, over several flowing creeks with swing bridges, to a high meadow, and then to an alpine area with views of steep, jagged, granite peaks.

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls on route 6 through Mt. Aspiring NP. A most beautiful drive.

Marsh near Haast

Marsh near Haast on the west coast of the South Island.

Hawks Crag

Hawks Crag at Kilkenny Lookout - It's not unusual when driving in New Zealand to encounter one-lane bridges, but Hawks Crag is another animal. Not only is it one-lane, but it is carved out of rock and is long with blind curves. Ouch!

Abel Tasman Torrant Bay

Albel Tasman ~ Torrant Bay - One of New Zealand's jewels, Abel Tasman NP has wonderful views, great beaches, excellent track, and pristine blue waters. My first day here I took a water taxi to Bark Bay for a 20km day tramp back to the park entrance. The track meandered in and around various coves and bays along the shoreline, often through the bush, but periodically with stunning views of the coastline below. The next day the views were from sea level when I was on a kayak trip organized by Kaiteriteri Kayaks, called their Soul Food trip. This trip had a 1-1/2 hour water taxi to its start at Mutton Cove where we had a day of easy paddling along the coastline, a catered lunch, and then at days end a water taxi ride back.

Abel Tasman Kayaks

Abel Tasman - Kayaking the coves.

Farewell Spit Lighthouse

Farewell Spit Lighthouse - From Collingwood, I took a 6-1/2 hour tour to the end of the Farewell Spit which started about 4 hours before that day's low tide. The tour uses beefed up 4WD buses to drive the 21km to the sand spit end. Along the way we viewed abundant birds and never ending sand dunes.

Heaphy Track Shoe Tree

Heaphy Track ~ Shoe Tree - Although the Heaphy Track spans 82km, it was the Heaphy Hut locale which made this tramp special to me. This hut is at the terminus of the Heaphy River with the Tasman Sea. Sandy beaches on both the river and sea made walking the area grand, while watching the pounding surf was wild and wicked.