There is something so satisfying about scoring a big old tick through one of your bucket list destinations. The Routeburn track had been high on my list from the start of this New Zealand adventure. Due to huts being booked up, not having transport and then when we did being to scared to tackle the gravel road in case of a wheel malfunction we just kept putting it off. A very warm and beautiful sunny day in November however would be the day we made our way to one of New Zealand’s great walks.
Coffee at this time in a morning was very important and needed to help navigate through the Queenstown marathon traffic. We were soon on the road to Glenorchy, not a soul in sight and minds on the pre hike pie snack from Mrs Wooly’s general store. Robbie opted for the biggest pie known to mankind and I was offered two measly mouthfuls. Not as hungry as my small baby Elephant of a boyfriend I decided to wait until we reached lunch time somewhere on the track. Note to self – always have a pre hike snack; your faint, disoriented body will thank you later.
It was hot and getting hotter. We set off around 11am. In hindsight we should have maybe set off earlier as we pretty much ran the first bit of the track. It is so beautiful, you will need the time to take it all in. Pretty much the first section to the Routeburn falls is under the tree’s popping out now and again to blow your socks off with some incredible views back over the valley or to lure you down to the bluest water I have ever seen. We filled our bottles up in the stream and I dramatically poured it over my forehead to cool myself in the heat of the day.
We made it to the Routeburn flats hut in record time and decided to push on to the falls and then check out all the things we ran past on the way back. This is where it got hard. Not hard but just long. Probably due to the fact I hadn’t eaten since my half bowl of cereal at 6.30am and anxiously worrying about the lack of water in my bottle I found this section challenging. Robbie raced ahead and I felt like I was walking in a spacesuit. EVENTUALLY making it to a clearing with the most spectacular views over the valley & one final push up some rocky stairs we made it to a DOC wooden walkway.
The hut had to be close for the wooden walkway to be this maintained we thought AND it was! I raced to the nearest bench and stuffed as much food down my throat as humanly possible. It took me around fifteen minutes to come right and stop feeling faint.
We explored the hut which exceeded all my expectations & made me want to set up camp and stick the kettle on but unfortunately we were restricted in time and had a few more hours exploring to do. After being warned by a group of boys to not get to close to the water we stayed a safe distance away on one ledge. I looked up and could see some tiny ant like people coming down a small walkway. My legs were saying no but my camera was pulling me up the track an extra fifteen mins. It looked way longer than I thought and my dramatic wails were soon silenced when we reached the most epic viewpoint. One speedy photo shoot later we refilled our bottles and made for home.
Keen to stop off at all the little nooks on the way back we full on sprinted down the hill that had caused me pain on the ascent. Making it back down to the flats hut in record time. We nosed around a little, grabbed some photos and convinced ourselves we wouldn’t be back at the car for at least another four hours. Turned out our legs are way quicker than our heads and we made it back to the car in less that two, even with all my photo stops.
It was magic. The whole day from start to finish was everything you could want from a backcountry hike in New Zealand. I thought I would be exhausted but I think I was still buzzing from the excitement. We made it back in time to enjoy the afternoon light hitting the lake the whole way back in to Queenstown.
We have already planned our next great walk and decided on completing The Routeburn one day, sometime soon.