Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 13, 2018

Another lovely month in New Zealand

Once again it has been a busy month!

Saying “goodbye” to Steve and Gates again (why do I feel like I am getting shorter?)

Back to my beautiful BlueJay (a great “bed on wheels”)

I left the States on January 26, getting back to NZ on January 28th.   I had two days to get from Christchurch over to Queenstown to meet the rest of my hiking crew.   Last spring, Dianne and I made reservations to hike the Milford Track starting January 31.   Those plans expanded into also doing the Otago Rail Trail (by bike) and then the Routeburn Track.   I had planned to have a couple of weeks to get ready for these three trips, but ended up staying in San Diego for the doctor’s appointments and tests.   So now I was on a “fast track” to have everything ready to go!

I had beautiful weather to drive across New Zealand (that helps), and it seems that I have switched driving sides of the road so many times that it has not been a problem. Whew!

Mt. Cook at the end of Lake Pukaki

 

So on January 30, I met up with Dianne, Ian, Russell, Diane, Phillip and Bronwyn – such a “motley crew”  They flew and drove from various places in New Zealand.   Dianne, Ian, Russell and Diane all flew from Auckland.   Phillip and Bronwyn live in New Plymouth, but were visiting their daughter in Christchurch.

 

 

 

The Milford Track is in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.   It is part of a World Heritage Site and is listed as “the finest walk in the world”. New Zealand has 9 “Great Walks” of which the Milford is probably the most famous.   The others are: The Routeburn, The Kepler, The Heaphy, The Abel Tasman, The Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaramoana, The Whanganui Journey (Canoe trip), and The Rakiura (Stewart Island). The only one I haven’t done over the years is the Wanganui Journey (next year?!)

We are “doing it”! Dianne, me, Russ, Ian, Bronwyn, Phillip, and Diane

 

We all drove over to TeAnau from Queenstown and on the 31st took the Fiordland Express boat to the start of the Milford.   The first day is a pretty easy day with only 5 kilometers to the Clinton Hut. Bronwyn walked that section with us, and then headed back to the boat.   She was going biking rather than tramping! That afternoon/evening it was raining lots!   Now Fiordlands is used to lots of rain, but this was more than even what they are used to: thus the Milford Track actually flooded.   It was flooded in both directions from the hut where we were staying.   So they closed the Milford Track and asked us to stay in the Clinton Hut for an extra day.   Luckily there was a jigsaw puzzle which almost everyone took a turn!   So all 40 of us spent an extra 24 hours in that hut.   (Unfortunately for the people who were supposed to do the Milford the next day, their reservation was cancelled and with not much chance of booking in the near future.)

Flooded Clinton River which closed the track.

Lots more waterfalls with the rains!

When it cleared off, we were surprised to see snow on the tops!

Spending lots of time with the other 40 people in the Clinton Hut

Tengu is ready to go on the side of my pack!

That second night the skies started clearing, and the next day it continued to clear as we went on to the next hut.   Then, the third day, as we went over Mackinnon Pass, we had beautiful blue skies.   Those beautiful blue skies also brought a very cold wind! So we didn’t linger on the tops, but luckily there was a lovely shelter just off the saddle where we could fix tea and warm up.   Down to the Dumpling Hut and then the last day we had a long 18 kilometer hike (11 miles) in order to get to the boat at the well named Sandfly Point.

Yup – we are on the Milford Track!

It was clear but cold!

Monument to Quentin McKinnon

Blue skies, snow, and clouds – a good mix!

That’s the actual pass

Beautiful on top of the pass!

 

The boat took us into “Milford”, where some of us got on the bus to go back to TeAnau, while the others rode with Bronwyn who had driven to Milford. Yes,The Milford Track is one of the most beautiful and “finest walks in the world”!

More beautiful waterfalls

Peaceful rivers when they aren’t flooding!

Statistics on Sutherland Falls

Southerland Falls – highest waterfall in New Zealand

 

Sandfly Point!

After a night in TeAnau (with well needed and appreciated showers, and a good steak dinner), we headed back to Queenstown to send off Diane and Russ.   Then the 5 of us, drove to Clyde where we were booked to bike the Central Otago Rail Trail. We picked up rental bikes for 3 of us (me, Dianne and Ian), and started our journey from Clyde to Alexandra, then on to Omakau the first night, Wedderburn the second night, Hyde the third night, and Middlemarch the last day.   It was very fun and rather posh (for me that is) – we stayed in lodges every night with real beds, had real meals, and our bags were transported from lodge to lodge.   But still we did pedal the whole trail.   It was very fun!

Dianne, Ian, Phillip, Me and Bronwyn

Great line-up!

 

Fun old bridges

Me and Tengu on the track

Fun tunnels along the way

Of course you have to get a pic at the highest point!

Tengu and “his bike”

Fun statues along the way!

Coming out of another tunnel

Finished! Yea! Dianne, me and Bronwyn

And at the Middlemarch station

 

We took a shuttle back to Clyde to get our vehicles on the 4th day, and then drove back to Queenstown.   There we had 3 nights while Phillip and I “re-grouped” and got our tramping gear back together.

In Queenstown

Looking up towards Glenorchy

Dianne, Ian, and Bronwyn drove Phillip and me to the Routeburn Track. The whole group of us hiked the first couple of hours, but then they all turned back to the vehicles, while Phillip and I continued on.   The Routeburn is also one of the most beautiful tracks – it goes from Glenorchy in The Aspiring National Park into Fiordlands and ends at Key Summit.   We had a lovely 4 days of backpacking.   Unfortunately it was rather cloudy and rainy as we went over the tops – but the next day it was beautiful.   We got to the Howden Hut early, so took a hike up to Key Summit (and we were glad we did since the next morning it was raining again!).

Great waterfalls!

We are “off” on the Routeburn!

Phillip crossing another bridge.

More waterfalls!

I can’t help but take photos of these great water ways!

Looking down valley from above the hut

Looking down on Lake McKenzie and the hut at the end of the lake

After dinner tea “in the lake”!

This was NOT one of our huts (there are “guided walkers” who stay in really nice huts!)

Tengu and me at Key Summit overlooking Lake Marion (we have been here before!)

Key Summit

 

I was pretty happy with my leg/knee.   There was some pain – which is to be expected I guess, and some swelling; but basically it did great. The progress has been slow (at least to my hopes and expectations), but there is progress.   I keep trying to get it to bend – it is still stiff going downstairs, kneeling, and walking and biking.   But it has only been a bit over 9 months since the break – so I have to keep working it and being patient with the progress.   And I really am happy that I have been able to do so much so soon.

Beautiful!

Another beautiful sunset

After a night in TeAnau (I so appreciate my friend Sue Brownie, who lives in TeAnau, and lets me park and sleep in her back yard!) and a night in Queenstown – I said good bye to “the group” as we dispersed:   Dianne and Ian flew to Auckland, Phillip and Bronwyn headed back to see their daughter in Christchurch.   As I drove East toward Dunedin, I stopped and several of the places we had been at on the Rail Trail.

 

A couple of days in Dunedin visiting my friend, Peter “Muppet” Walker – we became good friends during our time in Antarctica!   And then back to TeAnau to volunteer for the GODZone adventure race.   Some of you might remember that I volunteered last year also – and had so much fun I came back to help again.   And since this year it was in my favorite New Zealand town (TeAnau), I just had to help!

 

This year there were 92 teams of 4 people each (one of whom had to be female) and it was a 10 day course.   The winners came in in 5 days 13 hours and 34 minutes and the last ones came in on day 9 – that’s a long race! It was an incredible course and it took the racers to some of my favorite places (Wairahraheri River, Lake Poteriteri, Slaughterburn Hut, South Coast Track).   I enjoyed watching their progress across some very inhospitable terrain. And I enjoyed being in charge of TA 7 (Transition Area) – where the racers came in by bike and left hiking. I always meet like-minded volunteers and come away with great new friends. And the racers are so appreciative of our efforts to support them on their challenge.

Briefing – 92 teams of 4 people and you could hear a pin drop!

The Start

Organizing gear (we did a lot of that)

Putting up “flags”

More gear organization

Bikers coming into the Transition Area

The Finish Line

The first night off the course, I slept for 11 straight hours – guess I was tired!   So I have wandered East again to see my friends Myles, Margaret and Gus in Christchurch. The weather is starting to change down here – days a a bit shorter and the nights a bit chillier!   In less than a month, it will be time for me to head back North again.

 

One of my favorite spots!

Camping at the beach

 

When I was sitting at the bottom of the steps last May 27th looking at my broken femur, I thought I wouldn’t make it down here this time.   But here I am, I’ve been tramping, biking, camping, and, once again, just LOVING New Zealand! I feel blessed!

 


Responses

  1. Talie, thanks for continuing to share your and Tengu’s adventures. I love that you’ve rebounded so well from your surgeries and are continuing to push on living the life you want. Kin-Ling and I have left Texas and are now in Knoxville, TN along the smokies and loving having mountains near by again.


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