Posted by: Talie Morrison | February 26, 2011

The last of my NZ Adventure (for this time)…

I am actually already home in Crested Butte as I write this.  Thank you everyone who checked in with me to see if I was still in New Zealand during the terrible second earthquake that hit Christchurch.   I did miss that one, but my heart goes out to my friends and the people who have been so severely affected by that quake.  If you find it in your heart you could join me in making a contribution to their earthquake fund.   They are lovely people of a small nation and they are going through a big tragedy for all of them.

Even though I am home, I did want to share the photos of my last few weeks in New Zealand, because I still was seeing some very beautiful places.  At the end of my last entry, Dan, Annabelle and I had just climbed up to the Pylons above the Mt Aspiring Hut.   The next morning, we hiked back out to the trailhead and then drove (across all the 8 fords in the road) back to Wanaka.   We all headed to Queenstown from there and they went to catch up with their friends and I stopped to pick up hut tickets to do the Routeburn.   These last two tramps I did are both “Great Walks”.   New Zealand has 9 Great Walks : The MIlford, The Able Tasman, The Heaphy, The Routeburn, The Kepler, The Rakiura [I did part of that on my Stewart Island trip], Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaremoana Track, and the Whanganui Journey).  These are some of the most popular tracks, and they are very well cared for (which is probably the reason I don’t usually do the Great Walks) by the Department of Conservation.   I guess another reason I don’t usually do them is that my hut pass isn’t good for the huts on these tracks.   Anyway, I decided to end my trip this time by doing two Great Walks (The Routeburn and the Kepler).   Dan and Annabelle said they could bring Yanqui from the start of the Routeburn to the end of the Kepler.   It only necessitated me to do a hitchhike into TeAnau from the end of the Routeburn.

I picked up my hut tickets for the Routeburn in Queenstown and drove to the trailhead.   The first day was pretty mellow, following the Routeburn (a “burn”  is a small stream – a word that comes from Old English).   It was beautiful following the stream and the trail was like a highway and it was a gorgeous day!

The Routeburn

Like a highway! Nice!













I stopped at the Routeburn Flats hut for lunch, and then it wasn’t much further to the Routeburn Falls hut.   What a beautiful BIG hut (I didn’t have it all to myself this time 🙂 )   I knew that the next day was supposed to be rainy, and since I was at the hut early, I decided to go on up to the pass (which was what I would be doing the next day) and climb a little peak up there called Conical Hill.   It was a fantastic afternoon and the views were spectacular!

Lake Harris at the pass

On top of Conical Hill

You can see all the way to the Tasman Sea





The next day I was really glad I had hiked to the tops, because it was totally socked it and rained on me all day.   It was a shame because that day is the most beautiful day of the hike – all along the upper Hollyford Valley.   Oh, well…..  I didn’t have my new eVent raincoat with me (it was back at the “shop”) so I used my Go Lite Umbrella.   I felt like Mary Poppins as I hiked along – but the other people on the trail were envious!  🙂

Coming down to Lake McKenzie and the hut (upper right on the lake)

The second night (after a very wet day) at the Lake McKenzie Hut, there were about 30 people – and only 3 of us were native English speakers.   There were lots from the Czech Republic, Germany, and Israel.

The next day going from the McKenzie Hut to the Howden Hut (it did clear off somewhat), there were lots of waterfalls and one of the most beautiful rainbows I’ve ever seen!

Lots of rain means lots of beautiful waterfalls!

The trail went next to the bottom of this falls (I got soaked!)

The picture doesn't do it justice - the colors were SO vivid!

I got to the hut early again, so in the afternoon I hiked up to Key Summit.   On the way, I discovered a track (Pass Creek) that would take me down the Hollyford Road.   From there it was only a couple of kms up to the Lake Marion track.   I thought that would be a wonderful way to end this track before I started the Kepler.   However the Hut Warden (the Great Walks have wardens at their huts) said that there was a big “slip” (a mud slide) and the Lake Marion track was closed.   Hum….  Now why would that stop me??  🙂   So off I went – down Pass Creek – and up the Hollyford Road to the Lake Marion trail head.   I’ve been up to Lake Marion twice before, but it is so beautiful up there – I just had to go one more time.

From Key Summit - that's Lake Marion next to my head.

Oops - looks like I have to climb over the tape...


It's a "slip", but they have put markers through it. It wasn't so bad, but I could see why they wouldn't want inexperienced hikers going up here.

Tengu and me at Lake Marion

So from Lake Marion, I hiked back down to the Hollyford Road.   I scooted into the bush and changed into a clean shirt (for the sakes of whoever picked me up) and turned around to hitch hike into TeAnau.   The very first vehicle picked me up – it was a group of 5 people from the UK who were on a tour.   They had been viewing Marion Falls when I came down.   Their guide said when he picked me up, “Anyone who would change their shirt in front of us, we though we should pick up!”  Oops (I didn’t know they could see me! 🙂




So after a night in TeAnau, I headed up the Kepler Track.   The Kepler is right across Lake TeAnau, and since I was splurging (by paying for Great Walks) I decided to really splurge and I took a little ten minute boat ride across the lake which cut off about 2 hours of hiking around the lake.   Once again, I knew there was rain coming in so I wanted to get up to the hut before it started raining.   Since I was up there early, I had a great time getting to know the Hut Warden at the Luxmore Hut.

Luxmore Hut - Now that's a HUT!

The next morning, the rains had cleared off and it was a beautiful day to go across the tops.   The hike from the Luxmore Hut to the Iris Burn Hut goes along the tops almost all day.   There are beautiful views of Lake TeAnau and the Murchison Mountains.  It is a beautiful day of hiking!

View from the top of Mt. Luxmore

After going along the tops for several hours, the track goes down to the Iris Burn Hut.  Then day three is pretty mellow going out along Lake Manapouri till you get to the Moturau Hut.   And day four takes you out to Rainbow Bridge trailhead or you can walk another 2.5 hours on into TeAnau.   Dan and Annabelle were meeting me at the Rainbow Bridge with Yanqui.

Their plans for the rest of the day were to drive down to Milford Sound and do the boat tour.   There was room in their friends’ car, so I tagged along.   It started raining (bucketing!) on us as we drove up/down the Milford Road and by the time we got to Milford Sound, the waterfalls were everywhere and were huge!   It was great!

Driving down to Milford Sound - lots of waterfalls!!!!

So the next day I sent Dan and Annabelle and friends off to do the Kepler and I drove back to Christchurch.   I spent a couple of days getting Yanqui ready for her new owners, packing, and getting ready to head home.   Myles and Margaret gave me a going away dinner and I showed my “slide show” with their family (and the next night with our friends Gus, Bet and Stewart).

From Christchurch, I flew up to Auckland to see Dianne.   She had planned a trip out into the bush to Jon’s hunting bivy with a bunch of friends and invited me to go along.   So off we drove down to Taupo and hiked out into the Kaimanawas.   It was a great way to end my trecking for this trip.

Camping in the Bush at Jon's Bivy

With Dianne and friends










So on February 15th, I flew home to the USA.   I was sad to be leaving New Zealand – I sure love it down there, but it is always good to get home and it was especially good to spend some time with Craig and Steve and their families.   Since my truck, GrayJay, spent the time I was gone at Craig’s, I drove home to Crested Butte from California.   Luckily I was able to drive with clear roads – I was trying to beat a storm to Colorado (which I did).   It has been snowing since I got home – with about an extra 12 inches of fresh powder.

Now I am trying to adjust to the altitude once again.  Trying to make an transition from camping and hiking in shorts to wearing long johns and down jackets!  I am staying in Carol’s lovely condo in Mt. Crested Butte, I start working Guest Services tomorrow, and I have a ski pass for the rest of the ski season.   LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Typical Crested Butte scene - got to shovel a spot for your bikes!



  1. Welcome home Talie! What a wonderful post of your coming home. Enjoy the snow and the slopes today 🙂 Instant summer to winter is fun!

    Love you,

  2. Welcome home, Talie! Love to read about your adventures. Where and when is the next big one?

    Love, Lee

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