The Routeburn may have been the most beautiful hike we have ever walked. Hope the pictures speak volumes. The track runs from Mt. Aspiring to Fjordland National Parks over 3 days and 2 nights and was our finale in New Zealand. There is a little anecdote from Ella a the end. Enjoy.
“Shut up, shut up, you stupid human being.” I didn’t say it, but I thought it. After hiking five hours to the Routeburn Falls Hut from the trailhead in Glenorchy, we were all rather tired. The first day was a fairly straight forward walk, without many steep parts. We arrived at the hut a few hours before sunset; and well, I was bored. After we had played nine rounds of Golf, Crazy 8’s, and Spades (our signature backpacking card games), we had nothing left to do. We had brought leftover pasta, which we had stored in an empty ice cream carton, for dinner. Turns out, two giant containers of Italian food is kind of heavy. Finally, we all returned to our sleeping bags and began the grueling process of trying to fall asleep in a room full of twenty other people. Here’s a tip: bring a sleeping mask and ear plugs, cause there is always going to be an old man with a snoring problem. Back to that moment when I was silently willing this super annoying guy to shut the heck up; well, that’s what I was doing. He was informing these three people about all his travels for around an hour. Oh, and of course, he was American. Something I’ve learned on this trip, the annoying people are always American. Hopefully we’re not one of them. Eventually he shut his mouth, but then decided to set an alarm for 4:30 in the morning. He was NOT my favorite person in the world.
The following day we hiked Harris Saddle (the big part of the trail) and climbed up Conical Hill (a side trail). I strongly recommend hiking Conical Hill. It was a hard climb, but the view was completely worth it at the top. About the huts on the Routeburn, compared to the ones on the Tongariro, they’re mansions. The first one even had flush toilets! Living a life of luxury. Another thing about the Routeburn, it’s gorgeous. Everywhere you turn, there’s a picture worthy spot. Hiking it in the rain would not be fun though. You’d be seeing more of the inside of a cloud than anything else. We stayed at the Lake Mackenzie Hut the second night. In case you couldn’t guess by the name, it’s by a lake, a beautiful lake, that sadly attracted sandflies. A sandfly is the most evil creature that exists on this Earth besides mosquitoes … it’s basically a mosquito. We read that Deet bug spray would keep them at bay, but that is a flat out lie. I sprayed four layers of the stuff on my legs, and my legs were still covered in bites. It could’ve been worse though, all over New Zealand you see some tourists covered in bites from head to toe.
On a completely different subject, all along the Routeburn Track you would notice wooden traps. Our hut warden explained to us what they were for, catching stoats. Apparently, we humans brought these evil weasel looking animals to New Zealand. These “stoats” are causing the native birds of New Zealand to become extinct. The hut warden decided to do something about that, so he set up a trap system. Every night at the hut, he asks for donations; so, he can purchase more traps to save more birds. The talk was surprisingly interesting, especially since it lasted for a LONG time.
The third day was spectacular too. The weather wasn’t cooperating as much as it had been, but that only made the waterfalls even more amazing. One looked just like Rivendale from Lord of the Rings. As we hiked the track in three days and two nights, these speed walkers/runners passed us. They were doing the whole thing in a day. That was kind of discouraging. They sped past us, as we hobbled along weighed down by our massive backpacks.
Nothing is sweeter than seeing the end of a long trail. You’re tired, you haven’t showered in days, you smell like no one on this good Earth should smell, but suddenly you see the finish line and you speed walk. Nothing can stop you from getting back to your car, except for perhaps an endangered species of New Zealand. Three Kea were playing with a frisbee someone had left on the roof of the bathrooms. They are supposed to be the smartest bird in existence, with the IQ of a three year old. Of course, we stopped and took literally 300 hundred pictures. We stopped and ate six dollar Miles Better Pies in Te Anau on the way back. Legs were sore, and Walden was feeling victorious because we only had one more backpacking trail left, unless someone recommends one. Then we’ll be on it the next day. – Ella