I heard that Dunedin had lovely architecture, the world’s steepest street, an awesome beach, and a chocolate factory, so I decided to pay the city a visit. I stayed in a beautiful old house transformed into a hostel and visited all of the above. I also enjoyed walking around the botanic gardens, where a rose garden was in full bloom.
After doing so many day hikes, I had a hankering to try an overnight walk. The Kepler Track is in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, right outside Te Anau. I joined two Israeli guys who were also doing the hike and we met up with another British guy on the track. Although the full walk is 60 km, we did only about 45 km, and completed the hike in two full days instead of three nights and four days. We walked about 22 km each day. The first day, we took a water taxi to Brod Bay. We then had a substantial uphill climb into the mountains, which is much tougher with an overnight pack! We stopped at the Luxmore Hut and waited for the clouds to clear. In the meantime, we explored a nearby cave, which involved crawling under very low rocks. It was awesome! The cave was so deep that we didn’t even make it through the whole thing. It was also pitch black when you turned your flashlight off.
Once the clouds cleared, we continued along the track. We experienced some stunning views and saw kea birds (an alpine bird native to the South Island). We arrived at the Iris Burn hut fairly late in the evening, and I decided to cool off with a swim in the river. It was more like a dunk in the river (so cold!), but it felt good. The hut was very luxurious for a track hut apparently (flush toilets! dishsoap provided!) I slept in another gigantic 12-person bed, which seemed odd in River Valley but now seems completely normal. The next day, we finished the track quickly, as the terrain was much flatter and not nearly as photo-worthy (an endless forest). We arrived at Rainbow Reach in the mid-afternoon and drove back to Te Anau. The weather was amazing both days. It only rained a bit the first afternoon, and considering that it rains two out of three days in the Fiordland, we were incredibly lucky!
I have discovered that I really love tramping. The feeling of accomplishment when you reach the summit of a hike is amazing, and I appreciate truly earning the amazing view. I also love that I am gaining some muscle doing something that I enjoy. I look forward to doing many more walks in my travels!