Traveling to the remarkable peaks of New Zealand, we did a dog leg through Te Anau, the gateway to the Sounds of Fiordland. Unfortunately the prevailing winds started a shower and mist shrouded most of the scenery here. Had we been more organised, the Milford Track or Routeburn would be a great addition to the trip. We would have to settle for some of the lesser known huts.
Our stay on the edge of Lake Hayes in Queenstown was shared with many other freedom campers. They didn’t quite share our enthusiasm for an early run around the lake. The run climbed some distance and you got good views of rowers training before the valley winds chopped the water.
Climbing up the plateau to Wanaka we found a warm micro-climate and a cool glacial lake – perfect for swimming. Noting the empty tank and the relatively steep price at the pumps here we weighed up options to refill before seeking advice for walks at the local Department of Conservation (DOC). Here, we booked a pass for Liverpool Hut, one of the more challenging ones we could find.
On the unsealed road up to Mt Aspiring National Park we scanned the horizon for dust plumes from other vehicles and took time to navigate the shallow fords, nine in total, until the car park. An afternoon hike involved a climb to the Rob Roy to watch ice calve off the glacier and on return watch cattle crossing the Matukituki River.
Liverpool Hut was recommended by our friend, Liam. The hike steadily undulating to the valley wall, then a sharp ascent up the shale slope. We got into a bit of a race with a Spanish couple and seven Isreali’s. Our persistence paying off, being the first to make it to Liverpool Hut to enjoy a couple hours of solitude. When the others arrived, this caused a bit more noise and naturally the kea came in to investigate, trying their luck to pry apart anything left outside. The hut soon was overflowing its’ 10 person capacity – lucky we got in early.
Again rising early and descending back, quick enough to beat the rising sun, we set off for the West Coast. We were somewhat I’ll prepared for the ferocity of the local sandfly population that was there to greet us.