Saturday, 29 January 2011

Dusky and beyond!

OK, so it's been a while, but then I'm here doing stuff and not sitting in front of my computer, which is the point right?!

Anyway, since my last update, I have flown down to Queenstown to spend a few days with my brother Joe, which was cool (with his sound housemates). We took a walk on the Glenorchy side of town as a brief train for the Dusky Track walk (more on that in a bit...) called the Mt Crichton loop (at least I think that's how it is spelt!). Then I hitched down to Te Anau to meet up with my good buddy Neil. We stayed there for about 3 days preparing for the Dusky with supplies, hut tickets, track transport, hiring an emergency beacon (!) and checking the weather forecasts. It was a lovely sunny time in Te Anau, but the weather needed checking, cos the Dusky Track is in Fiordland and let us just say that this area is aptly named.

It (on average) rains 280 days of the year, at about 8 metres of rain in a of the wettest places in the world I'm told and as such is prime rain forest. So, last monday, me, Neil and Joe (who drove down from Queenstown on Sunday) headed to the track. We met up with the trailhead transport at Clifden Corner (middle of nowhere and home to a suspension bridge built to the same specifications as the suspension bridge by the same name (or similar name..can't remember) in Bristol. It's a lot smaller mind.

Anyway, that useless fact aside, here the transport to the start of the walk began and we met some fellow trampers (Kiwi term for walkers in the great outdoors...and in Germany as advised by the very knowledgable Michael from Germany!) These included a good lad from Norway that we ended up walking the track with by the name of Helge.

So, after about 45 mins drive (from the middle of nowhere to the middler of nowhere) and then a 45 minute boat ride over Lake Hauroko (deepest lake in NZ at about 480 m), we were at the track head and being attacked by sandflies. These are kinda like midges and damned annoying. The Maori story is that after the land was created, it was decided the land was too perfect and so the Maori god stuck a load of sandflies there to make it less appealing to us humans. As a result the Fiordland National Park exists and is estimated as "fucking huge" by Joe and Neil and more accurately by Wikipedia as about 12, 500 km sq.

Well, it was 6 days of mud essentially. We covered 3 major valley systems and 2 mountain passes and got very (understatement) tired, wet and muddy. It was sunny for the first day, the rain the rest of the time, but to be honest that was perfect (cos it's a rainforest!). The path wasn't so much a path, as an indicated direction to go through pristine rainforest, mud pits, across streams, three-wire bridges, a mountain range, insanely steep ascents and descents. Often the path was a stream, or maybe the stream was the path??  Streams had to be waded across of which the deepest was just under waist height. Mudpits (or just a very muddy path) could either be to the top of our soles, or anywhere up to our waists and we didn't know which until it was too late!

At the start of the tramp we took a fair amount of photos and tried so hard to avoid the mud, but a couple of days later you realised this was far more hassle than it was worth! One spectacular night I woke everyone up to look at the stars cos it was a clear night (despite raining the previous and next day) and the stars were insane...everyone agreed it was the clearest anyone of us had seen. Helge took some great photos of the sky with a 30 second exposure which may be visible here at some point (or check out my facebook maybe....Dav Ros). We saw the milky way really clearly, as well as the large and small Magellanic Clouds (I think this is the right name)

I could rant on for ages about this, and probably will to some of you when I see you, but in the meantime, the photos will have to do.

We got back to Queenstown yesterday and can just about walk again (!) and tomorrow me and Neil get a coach up north to Abel Tasman National Park for some relaxing and more battle against the sandflies!!!

Photos 1 to 9 are by me, the next by Neil (that wasn't even very deep!...and of course my feet were soaked by then) and the rest are Helge' I'm rushing and this is my last chance to post for a few days, so labels will be put on anon and apologies for the blurry stars....gotta go eat!!!

photo session with Helge and Joe

Lake Roe

where we came from mistily viewed from Lake Roe

Lake Roe again (should I have added some other locations?)

Lake Horizon on the top of the Pleasant Range

Neil, Helge and Joe on the Pleasant Range with Dusky Sound behind

The Seaforth River flowing into Loch Maree viewed from the daft steep descent (our hut was in those trees in the middle)

Joe descended from the Pleasant Range to Loch Maree (very steep but the photo doesn't show this)

Neil demanded I stand still and get cold feet...

arriving at Upper Spey Hut very wet...VERY wet

Lake Roe or Pleasant Range???

bright stars from Kintail Hut by Helge

The Southern Cross from Kintail Hut

somewhere on the Dusky Track by Helge. I particularly like this shot.
clear water by Helge

happy Joe by Helge

backwoods hip hop style a la stockton


Lake Te Anau

Lake Hauroko

from Lake Hauroko

on the dusky

Sunday, 16 January 2011

heading south

Well, it's been a relaxing couple of weeks or so in Auckland. and it's been damn hot! but relaxing and lush as expected. We went up north to Goat Island last week which was super mellow. A lot of time spent reading around the campsite, which had beautiful views, as well as snorkelling in the lovely clear water (and using my bro's underwater camera which was pretty neat).

Tomorrow I am off to the South Island to hook up with my other brother and then old Neilski for some tramping. Getting excited for that and for seeing the stars down there. The stars seem clear in Auckland (for a city) and up north they were pretty damn clear, but down south it will be ridiculous!

Anyway, here's some photos and cheers for the comments and good wishes.x

a Monarch in Auckland

wow, they have street lamps in New Zealand?!...hmm. yes...Auckland

view from the campsite at Goat Island 

Goat Island beach in an arty mood at dawn

as above, but the other direction...

a friend came to visit while camping...

getting all arty again at the beach

Goat Island itself and the lovely clear water. It is a marine reserve and as well as various unknown fish, I saw a Ray while snorkling, which I thought was pretty cool.

taken by my bro, but I think it is great...

using the underwater camera...

and again...never used one before, but it was tricky, cos I couldn't look through the viewfinder, so I'd have to point and hope (no change there then!). These three are about as good as it got...

This was the biggest Snapper I saw. It was about two foot from the shore in about a foot of water and kept circling me. The size isn't so apparant here, but it was about 12 metres lon....ok a foot and a bit long.