A few days of rest and catch-up and I was getting itchy feet so booked into 2 huts along the Kepler Track and headed off with my car and walking kit....
The Kepler Track, a 60Km circular track, traverses through the spectacular scenery in Fiordland National Park; part of Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, starting and finishing at the southern end of Lake Te Anau.
Day 1 - the track followed the lakeshore through mountain and red beech, with kamahi, hard tree ferns and crown fern. I lunched at Brod Bay on the beach watching water-skiing and then the climb began...half way up I passed limestone bluffs, big rocks which looked dramatic and a break from all the trees blocking out the view of how high I had climbed!! From the top, above the tree-line I was able to see panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin, Takitimu Mountains, and the Snowdon and Earl Mountains. I stayed that night in Luxmore Hut, which had great views and was supplied with gas cookers, tables, benches, cold running water (note, NOT showers), lighting and mattresses on the bunkbeds! A very early night was had as the wind climb left me a little weary.
Day 2 - from Luxmore Hut the track climbs gradually to a ridge just below the summit of Mt Luxmore (1472m) before descending to a shelter close to the Forest Burn Saddle. At this shelter I could hardly feel my fingers, the wind was so bitter. Centered at latitude 45 degrees, S Fiordland NP lies in an area of predominately westerly airstreams known as the roaring 40's delivering high rainfall and changing weather patterns to the area. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of year - luckily the rain held off but the wind didn't!! I walked along the ridge for ages before descending into a hanging valley, walking down through forest which absolutely killed my feet, so day 3 I started hobbling along!
Day 3 - a steady day's "tramp" down through beech forest, riverside clearings and a gorge. Having the 1500hrs bus to catch I decided to start early to make sure I caught it. Being the first to leave the hut I didn't see another person until lunch by Lake Manpouri where I had so much extra time I could take it leisurely and enjoy the mountain and lake view from the sand.
So pleased to get back to Queenstown for a long soak in the bath!