New Zealand is pretty famous for its Great Walks of which there are 9. We picked and chose according to what was local for us,
Abel Tasman Coast Track
Tongariro Alpine Crossing/Tongariro Northern Circuit
To be fair, we only did a small portion of Routeburn and I didn’t hike Tongariro because I had absolutely no desire to climb a mountain to throw a ring into a giant hole, and I had lots of desire to find a shower.
The Kepler Track is around 60kms and is your basic UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN mountain track. It’s a no go in Winter due to Avalanches, though hiking in the snow could be fun. You can only stay at designated areas like Brod Bay, Luxmore Hut, Iris Burn Hut and Moturau Hut and DOC recommend 3-4 days. Both Luxmore Hut and Moturau Hut offer no camping, so the only choice is to pay around $100 for a bunk, a bit of a rip off if you ask me. We decided to wing it and hiked to Brod Bay in an afternoon, that was pretty easy, wake up at 5am the next day and hike all the way to Iris Burn Hut. To give you an idea, from Luxmore Hut to Forest Burn Saddle it took about 2 hours steady pace and another 2 to Hanging Valley. The walk from Hanging Valley to Iris Burn is through a lot of REALLY STEEP STAIRS. It’s a phenomenal track with a lot of amazing views, and we often passed runners who did the track in a day!
We only hiked a very small portion, but come on, look at these views…
The part we did is called Key Summit and took us about 2 hours return plus a while for lunch at the top.
This is a fairly easy track, with two pretty unique tidal crossings that you have to time into your hike. There are countless beaches at the end of the track, but a few get quite crowded in good weather. We couldn’t hike the last section due to flooding but it was well worth it anyway. You can get a water taxi to the end of the track and hike back (strongly suggest).
I obviously didn’t take too many photographs from this hike. It’s really pretty and we watched on both tidal crossings as people were forced to wait hours for low tide at the beginning of tidal crossings. Even when we crossed, at what we thought was the lowest level, it came up to our knees.
We had just finished a hike called Abel Tasman Coast Track, right at the top of the South Island (Highly recommend this track), crossed over to the North Island and the boy wanted to hike again. This time, Mt Doom. For anyone who hadn’t seen Lord of the Rings, it’s called Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
It actually worked out a little more helpful, me not doing the hike, since I could drive the car around and meet him at the other end. HOWEVER, the weather was horrible, and super dangerous, and despite the fact that I had made sure he had every form of first aid, extra food, extra clothing, extra torches supplies, he had to turn back. Now, we both took phones, so both of us were fully equipped with that technology.
I waited patiently at the end of the track thinking ‘I-love-that-I’m-clean-because-i-could-sneak-in-a-shower-at-the-local-pools-but-where-is-he?’. He was at the other end, apparently hitching a ride to the petrol/gas station. Somehow, our phones had failed us, or rather, mine had failed me, and he was stuck, in the middle of a national park.
Days went past, well, not days, but it felt like days, and I received a phone call from his Dad, back in Australia. WEIRD. He told me that my friend couldn’t contact me and was at a payphone. So off I went to find a payphone, and do you think that there was a payphone in sight? NOPE. I asked the petrol station, hotels and hostels we passed, random people on the road, I googled it, I paced up and down, I drove up and down any street I could find. I went BACK into the petrol station, and found a man who told me there was a payphone but it was broken. So I went and sat in the car, called his Dad back, twiddled my thumbs, what could I do? Absolutely Nothing.
By this time, I had come to the conclusion that he had died, or was kidnapped and that I would have to explain to his family that I had lost him forever.
I decided to just wander around in my car, and drove down a street that I had already been down and wouldn’t you know it, here he is just sitting outside a cafe drinking a hot chocolate. I could have strangled him. BUT, it was the best feeling I have ever had.
It felt like my soul escaped my body and I was watching myself astounded that he was actually found.
Good old Mt. Doom.