A 144 Hour tour - Greenstone And Kepler

Trip Start Jan 20, 2005
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Trip End Sep 10, 2005


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Friday, February 25, 2005

Sheep and cows are hilarious really. I was walking 12 Km by myself from the end of the Greenstone Track till Kinlock Lodge (3 hours away) when I hear rocks falling. I look up and see three sheep standing on a hill just staring at me , like they were posing for a picture... So I took one. Then I remembered that there was nobody on that road for two hours so I yelled "What?! What is it?!". They stared blankly back and I laughed and continued. Sheep and cows reactions are delayed too. If you walk up to them , they stare at you until you get close and when they realize , they just shoot off as fast as only a sheep can go. How did I get to this 12 Km road? Well , I did the Greenstone tramp.

The problem with the Routburn is that it's a one way tramp , so to get back to your car people have done all sorts of goofy things. Some switch car keys with people going the opposite direction or get picked up by a million dollar bus. I am alone so the only option presenting itself was doing the connecting walk (Greenstone) and then doing the Routburn which I did. The tramp is three days long so I brought a weeks worth of food on my back. Between the t2wo tracks I was going to stay at the Kinloch Lodge , right between the end of the Greenstone and the beginning of the Routburn. So my route was set - hike three days , one day of rest and hike another three days - perfect. When I was in queenstown I got a fancy gas cooker and a cute personal pot set so that I could cook my noodles on the way. I'm a real outdoors woman now, I can whip up my 2 minute noodles in the bush in 1.5 minutes. That must be some sort of record...

The nice thing about the greenstone besides the mud at first, is that there are less people and ... No Israelies. I have nothing against Israelies , don't get me wrong , it's just that they tend to do the highlights only and stick like glue to other Israelies and make noise. (I admit to having the genes for this behavior but I try not to pass the limits...) . This hike was different - we had a German guy , a Scottish couple , a Swedish couple and two girls (One from France who lives in England and the other from Maine in the United States) and an older Kiwi couple (not the birds , just people who live in New Zealand ... Funny mental image though ... he he). It's nice to have a mixture of people from different places because you just learn much more than someone like you.

Funny thing at the first hut after a rather wet walk. Who do I see at the hut? Keren! The German girl from Haast Pass! She was going in the opposite direction but it was so weird seeing her at a random hut along the way. After meeting all the trampers and eating my spicy Thai noodles (which are too damn hot but I got a pack of five) , we slept... and slept... and slept! I am pretty sure that there were twelve hours of sleep there - nine to nine.

The next day was a really nice walk. After leaving the forest , you get to a huge valley surrounded by mountains. The German guy was there and from then on we walked at the same pace pretty much. The day just kept getting better because the next hut was beautiful , new , and had flush toilets (very rare). The best part though , was the sun. It was nice and hot and the clouds disappeared and all the young people sunbathed on the deck. That night we really got to know each other much better by playing cards and just hanging out in our hut.

The last day was supposed to be relatively short (three to five hours) but at the end , I had to walk/hitch to Kinloch Lodge which was about 12 Km away on a dirt road path. The problem with hitching is that you need a car to pass and the number of cars that passed in my direction - one. One in three hours and it was too close to Kinloch to make any sense. So I walked until I got hungry and sat for lunch on the rocks overlooking the lake. I simply imagined that I was at a fancy restaurant overlooking the lake and my gourmet meal was a can of budget chunky tuna :) It was worth the walk though when I saw the lodge - A beautiful set of cottages with a great view and a restaurant (expensive though). My friends had just arrived - the girls from France and Maine were there and we enjoyed a glass of white house wine in the restaurant during happy hour. Not a bad way to end a tramp.

Kiwi's don't just go around saying "No Worries", they really don't have them. If you have a lengthy conversation with a Kiwi , you will find yourself talking about tramping and about the weather - two great Kiwi pastimes. Really you wouldn't think that weather would be such an issue but you can truly discuss it for hours. It's the only thing on the radio and also the highlight of newspapers. What a strange lifestyle.

I've now been here for one full month. Time just flies here , it seems like just the other day I landed in Christchurch. The best thing to do is wonder what people are doing at home. The game is called "I am - It is - You are - It is". Here is an example - I am sitting on a bench in front of a lake and huge mountain with birds singing , writing in my journal - it is 11:25 AM. You are just going to sleep or are already asleep because you have to wake up early for work and you will be stuck in traffic and get a flat tire - it is 12:25 AM. This is what I do often to make sure that I am appreciating every little thing all of the time and it works. Also , there is so much to look forward to every day - Australia will be great but also the North Island and Stewart Island in a week but the Routburn tomorrow and a bike ride in 30 minutes... Back to reality , I've got a bike ride to catch :)

*Me biking**Me biking**Me biking**Me biking*
My bike ride was great! and long! (52 Km to be exact). My plan was to ride from Kinloch to Glenorchy , have lunch and return. The weather was great and besides the annoying dirt road at first , the scenery was lovely and I even chased a sheep! Those sheep aren't too bright, but they have figured out how to exit and enter through the fence. This sheep was out and about when I whist by. The second the sheep realized that I was coming , she took off... So I did too. I even started laughing at one point because it must have looked ridiculous - A girl on a bike chasing an escaped sheep... Add the laughing and it was even funnier.

After a long ride, I had arrived in Glnorchy - a cute little town with a view of the lake from the other side and a couple of cafe's/bars. Had a sandwich somewhere and rode back. I couldn't think of a better way to rest between hikes then to go on a four hour bike trip. When I got back , who do I see when I get out of the bathroom? (an irrelevant detail but detail makes everything more interesting). Ofer , an Israeli guy I met in Queenstown. When he finally recognized me (I was with glasses) he was surprised too and then we found out that we were both doing the Routburn the next day. Whoopdydoo!

The weather really matters when tramping and whenever you get two days straight of good weather , you are bound to have rainy days ahead. I am a retroactive weatherman by trade , so I know these things. The Routburn was rainy and foggy. Only a few glimpses along the way revealed what we were meant to be seeing . This , and the sand flies are Fiordlands only two worries. The huts on this track are pretty big and well equipped. No need for my gas cooker here.
Another difference between the huts - the number of Israelies. There is a shelter located half way on the second days walk and after a one hour detour to the foggy top , I returned to a shelter of Israelies. The minute that I heard someone convincing the other that AA Premium is better than the regular , I was out of there to the next hut.
Back to civilization and time to head down south to Invercargil.
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