Routeburn Track, New Zealand, January 2017


Kia ora! Well I’ve just hung up the hiking boots following another superb trip ‘tramping’ in New Zealand. Along with a dozen or so new friends I hiked for 6 days through the Greenstone Valley and then climbed up onto the high alpine trails of the famous Routeburn Track in Fiordlands National Park (near Queenstown).
The journey unfolded step by step through a changing landscape- on day 1 we ascended a gentle valley filled with meadows of golden grass rippling in the breeze with scattered daisies & foxgloves lending the odd splash of colour. We walked in warm sunshine under a brilliant southern blue sky.
But soon dense rainforest was to prevail. The light became shrouded by towering beech trees & the forest sounds were softened by an underworld of green moss that carpets trunks & gnarled branches. Groves of ferns unfurled fresh fronds – their tendrils reaching toward the filtered sunlight. The trails were cushioned underfoot by a confetti of red, brown & yellow beech leaves that flutter down steadily from the canopy. Occasionally the secretive inhabitants of the forest would make themselves known with a plucky grey bush robin standing defiantly on tiny toothpick legs in the middle of the track.

The final two days were spent skirting the high ridges of the Ailsa mountain range in the southern alps. The exposed trail was a front row seat to snow capped mountain panoramas & teetered above sapphire blue lakes and thundering waterfalls. The exhilarating alpine views were matched by moody skies. The weather was fickle – from glorious sunshine to hiking in drenching rain, snow and sleet with subzero wind chill on the high passes. From the vast to the miniature we also marvelled at delicate Edelweiss clinging in rock crevices & the tiny alpine rock wren flitting among the crags.

While I’m not one to retrace footsteps too often this is my second hiking trip to New Zealand in a matter of years. The Routeburn Track is among the finest of alpine hikes anywhere in the world and I’m spoiled to have it (almost) in my backyard.


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