14.11.2011 - 15.11.2011 10 °C
A pretty restless night in a free DOC campsite due to parking in the middle of no where and raining all night gave way to a beautiful sunny morning. We set off early to find some toilets as the free DOC ones were worse than Glastonbury's! Stopped off at a picnic site on Lindens Pass for some cereal and a cup of coffee (which took about half hour to make with the very slow single gas
burner we had).
About an hour closer to Queenstown we stopped off at another picnic area called Bendigo. This was a beautiful site so we decided to find something to do around here and then come back for a barbecue. Pouring through the mountain of guidebooks and info pamphlets we found that Bendigo was actually an old gold mining town and still had the remains (a ghost town) at the top of the hills. We started down our first real gravel track in Hector and he was doing fine until the road turned into a very steep gravel track one car wide with a drop off of one side. Foot to the floor in first gear we were getting slower and slower until we had slowed right down to a walking pace and I was getting a little worried! If we stopped I had no idea how I would reverse back down! Finaly the road levelled off and a small car park appeared. We parked up, glad to have made it and all around us were the remains of stone buildings, wooden carts and huge 200 metre mine shafts!
An hour walk took us around most of the old ghost town
You can play 'where's Jayne' on the next picture...
I then decided it was time to head back down the treacherous road for a well deserved barby at the lake (Jayne decided to run down - not sure if she wanted the exercise or had decided it would be far safer!!)
Barby on !!
Jayne had a freezing bath in the lake and I opted for the warmer and impossibly funnier solar shower experience. This time with Jayne stood on a small rock face above me with the bag while I showered in relative warmth (exact details available on request).
A very pretty drive towards Queenstown took us past A J Hacketts original bridge bungee that Jayne has decided she might do in a few days time on our way back through!
In Queenstown Jayne decided our waterproof 'pac a macs' were no match for NZ weather and so decided to hire a couple of waterproof jackets, hiking boots and poles (I dreaded to think what was in store for me!).
A very long and fairly dangerous drive then took us to Kin Lock where we camped at the side of the river and ate a healthy salad lunch ready for our hike the next day. The plan was to do 1 day on the Routeburn track. The entire track is a 4 day trip in total but we were going to go to the first hut and try to make it to the second before returning to Hector the same day.
Awake fairly early we made sandwiches for the days hike and searched for somewhere to fill our water bottles (we considered filling from the lake, but eventually found a tap that looked a bit more promising!).
It was a short drive to the start of the Routeburn where we parked up, waved goodbye to Hector and set off along another beautiful forest covered gravel track. It took on the format of every NZ walk we had been on so far. Starts off easy and fairly flat, then builds into boulder laden thin paths on the edge of cliffs to finally becoming a near vertial hike up a never ending slope or steps!
It was however a particularly awe inspiring walk this one. You followed along side a fast flowing river with its clear icy blue water (caused by glacial melts)and numerous waterfalls for quite some time. There were many very bouncy rope bridge crossings.
and amazing views of the mountains.
It took us 2 hours exactly to reach the first hut (pretty good going) but the rain had started 20 minutes before we got there and was steadily getting worse. We dried ourselves off a little and wrapped up with a few more layers before seting off to the second hut. This route was listed as much harder than the first hut and it became instantly far steeper and more rocky underfoot. The rain was also now hammering down and even our waterproof hired jackets were starting to give way to the relentless water pouring down on us. After almost an hour we decided we had to turn back as I was cold, wet, misserable and the weather (along with my mood) was getting worse. 15 minutes back down and the weather cleared slightly but we knew we would be pushed for time to make it to the top and back down in time to get us to queenstown to return the rented gear so continued trudging back down.
We were so wet when we got to the bottom everything we were wearing and carrying was soaked right through.
I was so glad when we turned a corner and the car park came into view. After drying off the next destination was Lake Teanu, but tired and in need of power to charge the camera and a warm shower (as we hadnt had a proper one for days!) we stopped off at a holiday camp site. The warm shower was the best one we had both ever felt and a hot meal and a beer made the day seem a whole lot better.
Next stop Lake Teanu and Doubtfull/Millford Sound!....