Fiordland Day 1 – The Kepler Trail (well, a bit of it)

8 Dec


Fiordland. It sounds like it should be a song title by Bon Jovi (no, that was Garageland and Brokenpromiseland).  Or Bruce Springsteen. Perhaps A-Ha or Roxette?

When New Zealand does fjords (fiords over here) it doesn’t skimp.  They’re huge and enormous and beautiful and go on for weeks.

Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland.. A little settlement on the edge of a huge lake, with nothing much going for it apart from some sheep (there are a lot of sheep), and some huge mountains. And a huge lake.  People come here to walk, or to go to Milford Sound or beyond.

Today, I decide to tackle the Kepler Trail.  Kepler takes 3-4 days to walk, and I don’t have the time – but if I hop on the Kepler Water Taxi, they tell me I can do some of it in a day.  OK then.

So I hop onto a little boat with half a dozen other madmen, and zip across the lake.

The taxi drops us on a little beach, with a hole in the jungle that we’re supposed to go through.  It’s like a doorway to another world… as I go through I find myself in a massive beech forest, with palms and ferns (and a sign saying ‘Kiwi Country – no dogs’) (I don’t see one.  Kiwi are nocturnal).

I climb steadily through the forest, past trees that have collapsed down the hill, past giant sandstone bluffs, for over an hour until I come out on top of the hill.  I’ve been sweating all the way up the climb – and suddenly the blast of icy air takes all that away.  The views are still spectacular, but I’m climbing up above the snow line now, and it feels as if I won’t need to shave – the air is simply scouring the beard off my chin. It’s one of those days when not having hair is an advantage.

This is New Zealand at its most moody – the lakes are dark and forbidding, the clouds hang low over the mountains, and a fine drizzle dampens everything. But it’s still beautiful – somehow the lighting just makes the mountains seem more impressive.  I can see the Hidden Lakes that the captain talked about yesterday, and the area of the glow worm caves.  I climb to the bottom of the path to the peak of Mt Luxmore, and decide that it’s not worth the climb to the top (not if I am going to get blown off the mountain).  I’m usually OK with heights, especially on mountains. If God put it there, I reckon it’s got a good chance of staying there. I’m never quite so sure about things that man put up there. But today, well, I think today is not the day for me to learn to fly.


So after about 4 hours of walking, I turn round and head down the mountain, warming myself up at one of those wonderful lodges that the Kiwis put up. The climb down is merciless on the backs of my calves. You can’t get the taxi back, so that’s another 2 hours plus back into town.  I think I’ve earned my noodle soup tonight (memo to me… when the Japanese write ‘hot spicy’ on the noodle packet they’re not kidding).


One Response to “Fiordland Day 1 – The Kepler Trail (well, a bit of it)”

  1. Nikki Rose December 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Mr H!
    So, how are you doing? Rather well, it would seem :o)

    Glad you didn’t take up flying today, though …

    “Hot and spicy” sounds delicious – but the old ‘loo-roll in the fridge suggestion’ does spring to mind ;o)

    Think “Visiting New Zealand” needs to be added to my list of ‘100 things I must do before I pop my cloggs’… Your photos and vivid descriptions depict the most astonishing, beautiful, wonderful country!

    Got some muscle rub for those calves in your ruck-sack?!

    Mrs Rose xx

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