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Queenstown and the Milford Track

Hello everyone - Lynette, here. This is my first blog entry in awhile. Dave and I have been in Queenstown, New Zealand for over a week now. It is the adventure capital of the world here. This is where you can go bunge jumping in the morning and paragliding in the afternoon. Speed boating perhaps? Or maybe going down some rapids in a wet suit? The town sets on a beautiful lake that has mountains all around it. Dave and I are at a hostel directly across the street from the lake. The lake is crystal clear. Everything is so unpolluted in NZ. There are so few people here. We found out that New Zealand is roughly the size of England and has only 4 million people where as England has over 60 million people! We also found out that Austalia and New Zealand are rivals in everything. Wine, sports, general existing. It is a major sore spot for a New Zealander to move the the more modern Australia. The big competetive sports are Rugby and Cricket. The NZ rugby team is called the All Blacks. So, every where you look you see shirts, lunch boxes, flags, etc. that say All Blacks. Rugby is big down here - no joke. In Queenstown we took a gondola to the top of a mountain and ate lunch overlooking the city and all the mountains and the lake. The town itself is extremely easy to navigate and is full of tourist shops, restaurants, and bars. We also did a lot of hanging out lakeside and just staring at the lake and mountains behind it. It seems appropriate that in the adventure capital of the world Dave and I do the most adventurous thing we have every done which is the Milford Track.

The Milford Track is considered "The finest walk in the world." It is also something that we were told all New Zealanders try to do in their life time and I feel honored to be apart of such an authentic New Zealand experience. The track is a 5 day 4 night experience and there are two ways you can experience it. You can do it independently and carry all of your food and sleeping bag and sleep in huts that do not have showers or you can do the guided tour which is of course way more expensive but all of your food is provided and you sleep in a lodge in a warm clean bed and you have access to hot showers and running water. Since Dave and I have never done anything like this before - we opted for the cushy version. Which still involved us carrying a backpack with our clothes and such. To get to the starting point is an adventure in itself. It was a 2 hour bus ride to a lodge where we ate lunch and then went another 30 minutes to the boat launch. We then boarded a ferry boat which took us to the actual beginning of the walk. The ferry boat ride was well over an hour. Once we got to our starting point - we had a short (less than a mile) walk to our first lodge - Glade House. After a short break we went on a nature walk where the guides described the plant life, etc. and then took us to a flowing stream. Where we could actually drink directly out of! Both Dave and I just could not get over that you could drink directly from the stream. It was just like the olden days! Like we were Charles Ingalls filling up his canteen in Plum creek! It was cool.

The second day was the first major walking day. The just shy of 11 mile walk was relatively flat, except for the very end and easy to walk. Dave and I kept on stopping and going off the trail to see the various views that we ended up being the very last walkers to reach the stopping point. A 73 year old Japanese lady beat us to the end that day. We walked next to a crystal clear river. At some parts it was extremely deep and because it was clear it covered huge fallen trees and small hills! The views were spectacular. There were water falls, and green forest, and mossy rocks. Magical.

The third day was the toughest and on a clear day also supposed to have the lovelist view. Unfortunately we did not have a clear day. It was cold, windy, rainy with lots of cloud cover. This day was about a 12 mile walk and the first part involved about 4 miles of walking up a hill through what is called the Quinton Pass. This was tough - you were going over rocks and streams all on an incline. Our shoes and feet were completely soaked. Our rain gear was leaking - it was quite the experience. When we finally made it to the lunch spot. Everyone in the hut looked liked death warmed over. Everyone was exhaused and we all still had the descent yet to go, which we were told was actually harder than going up because it was so steep. Dave and I ate our soggy sandwiches and drank the hot Milo (hot chocolate) and then geared back up to head down the mountain. The weather was still pretty crappy but at one point there was a break in the cloud cover and Dave and I along with some other hikers got about a 5/10 minute view and it was magnificent. Waterfalls everywhere, huge mountains. It was so cool. Then the clouds came back and we headed back down the hill. Going down was definitely more hazardous. You had to traverse rocks and streams all while have the momentum of going down behind you. I still liked it better than going up though. I did twist make ankle several times and once (at the end of the trail) fell forward and ripped my pants and scrapped my knee. One woman that was part of our group actually fell during this part and broke her ankle in two parts. She had to be helicoptered off the trail using one of those lowered gurney things since the helicopter has no place to land.

Eventually Dave and I made it to our next lodge and after a short break walked the 1.5 hours to see Sutherland Falls. The 5th largest waterfall in the world. It wasn't wide at all but extremely tall. Then we hiked back to our lodge and took very long hot showers and rested are very sore legs, feet, and backs. The fourth day was the longest trek of the days with over 13 miles of walking. The terrain was by no means smooth as the second day, but it wasn't as crazy as the third either. But, when you are sore anything is a challenge. We made it though!!! We weren't last either - although we took our time. Lots of people on the hike were speedsters. I'm not sure why you would want to go so fast but lots of people did. In fact, our entire group set a trail record. We were the fastest group to ever do the Milford Track.

We definitely had a major sense of accomplishment when we finished. Especially because there were hardships - the weather being the main factor. It was rainy on and off on this day of walking also but not as cloudy so we were able to see lots of views. There was this awesome waterfall that is used in a lot of New Zealand adds on the track. We stopped and stared at that for awhile. There was also this rock that you could climb underneath and stand up inside. The water over the many years had hollowed out the center. At the end we took a short boat ride to the town of Milford (extremely tiny) and stayed at Mitre Peak lodge. We had a nice dinner and they gave a certificates of completition along with a group photo. There were 49 people who started the walk. There were a lot more Americans than I expected - over 12 of us. The other big group was the Japanese. Then a good hand full of Austalians, New Zealanders, and one lonely Canadian. The next day we went on a boat cruise of the Milford Sound area and then on out to the Tasman sea. The only thing under New Zealand is Antartica which was great to think about when out at sea. After the boat tour we had a 5 and half hour bus ride back to Queenstown. Dave and I were beat so we laid around a bit and then had the best hamburger I have every had in my entire life. Everyone must swear that if you every come to Queenstown you visit Fergburger and have one. They are the most delicious culinary burger experience known to man kind. I am not exegerating either my friends.

That is it from Queenstown. We move on to Rotorua tomorrow which is considered a must see experience in New Zealand.

Take Care all - Lynette

Posted by schuckley 16:02

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