Posted by: Talie Morrison | April 8, 2014

The Rest of March

After one day of rain (while I was back in TeAnau), the skies cleared – so I decided to do some of my favorite day hikes in the Fiordlands area.

I drove up the Milford Road with plans for 3 hikes: Lake Marion, Gertrude Saddle and Key Summit.  All three of these hikes I have done before – but they are some of my favorites, so I don’t mind doing them again! I drove back out the Hollyford Road to the Lake Marion trailhead.   It is a lovely hike of about 1.5 hours, which passes by the Marion Stream, with big rushing waters, up a relatively steep track to a pristine, beautiful high mountain lake!   I think I have hiked up here 3 or 4 times now – but each time I am well rewarded!   I filled my water bottle with water from Lake Marion and hatched a plan to drink it from Key Summit while I looked over the valley toward Lake Marion.

That night I camped at Lake Gunn, which is just below Key Summit.   The NZ Department of Conservation has set up basic camping facilities along the Milford Road and Lake Gunn is one of them.   There were about 25 vans, tents and campers there – I don’t think I had ever seen it so crowded.   It is very reasonably priced, but there are no facilities other than an “outhouse” (“long drop” they call it down here).   When the DoC rangers came to check that I had paid my fees, I met Phillip, a really sweet DoC worker – we had a lovely chat about New Zealand, DoC, and Fiordlands.

The next day I drove up to the Gertrude Saddle trailhead.   There in the parking lot was Phillip again – doing his job! I had been up to Gertrude Saddle before, but again it is one of my favorite hikes!   You might remember the Gertrude Saddle from my previous blogs – it is the one with cables on the rocks!.  (I kept laughing about what the difference between the cables on the AV 2 and the cables in New Zealand:   In New Zealand the sandflies are biting you! 🙂 )  It was a beautiful day, and from the top of the saddle I could see all the way down to Milford Sound.   I could even see some of the boats in the Sound.   When I got down from Gertrude, I “booked” in at a private hut just to see what it was like (probably don’t have to do that again…).   Even though it was late in the afternoon (4 pm), I decided to go ahead and do my Key Summit (Lake Marion water) hike — Need to do those things while the weather is good, because you never know what the next day will bring!   So I hiked up to Key Summit – which took about another 3 hours (round trip).   Lake Marion was pretty much in the shadows, but I could get photos of it while I drank the Lake Marion Water. I then hiked back down to the car park, and guess who was there: Phillip.   We were really laughing about always running into each other!

The next morning I decided to go down to Milford Sound.  I hadn’t been down to Milford on the last few of my trips to NZ.   It is pretty touristy and I try to stay away – but what the heck?   I figured if I rode one of the boats out into the Sound, I might be able to look up to see if I could figure out where Gertrude Saddle was.  I wasn’t sure I could tell which valley it was at the top of, but I had a great boat ride, and saw bottle nosed dolphins and seals.

Getting back to TeAnau, it looked like I might have a bit more good weather, so I packed up for a couple of nights and did the trek from Lake Manowai to Green Lake. Again I have done this trail before, but it is a beautiful lush bit of “bush” and I love it.  So after 7 hours (the sign said 6, but there was quite a bit of wind fall across the track which slowed me down), I show up at the hut — Guess who is there: Right!   Phillip!   Way too funny!  It was his day off, and he came out with his sister (also a DoC worker) to help her check the track and fix a few things in the hut.   Now that is dedication! I had one night sharing the hut with them, and the next night I had the hut to myself.   I just kept laughing about living in “beach front” property!   I love the New Zealand hut system!

Coming out from Green Lake, I drove back into TeAnau. When I stopped at the DoC office, I found out that there was one opening on the Kepler Track (Oh, another one of my favorites!). So even though it is a “Great Walk”, costs extra, and is more crowded, I decided to go for it.   Thus I ended my tramping for this NZ season with the beautiful Kepler Track – it was pretty perfect!   So you see, I did make the most of the great hiking weather for March!

After stopping in Mossburn to say “hi” to Mike, I went to see my friends Jo and Des in Queenstown.   Then off to Christchurch to Myles and Margaret’s where I got Abe ready to get “parked in the paddock” till I come back next year.   (Yup, I’m holding on to her and coming back…) I had a great surprise for my last few days when Dianne flew down from Auckland to see me before I left.   I am SO LUCKY to have such great Kiwi friends!




  1. Love your selection of Pic’s

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