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  • Day51

    Copeland Track

    May 22, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    The weather has finally worked out for us…well sort of. We had prepared for our first multiday trek in New Zealand. It was only a 2 day jaunt but it’s a start. We had found a highly rated trek called the Copeland Track which followed a glacial river for 18km and ended up at a 30 person bunk hut. The additional perk was that free natural hot pools were located 5 minutes from the hut.

    On the way to the trailhead we stopped at Lake Matheson. This lake is one of New Zealand’s first tourist attractions and is renowned for the picture and paintings of it. The attraction is that the lake creates a perfect mirror of the mountains in the background. We arrived early and at first we were worried that the mist wouldn’t lift which was obscuring the views. Fortunately, we lucked out as the mist cleared just enough so that we could see the reflection of the mountains as we rounded the far end of the lake side trail. It was very tranquil.

    Excited to get our hike started, we headed out. By this time it was a beautiful, sunny day. We pulled into the Copeland Track trailhead and started to pack our bags and then...THE SANDFLIES ATTACKED. We were surrounded and outnumber. Like mosquitoes buy smaller. To top it off, the start of the trek had a river crossing so I was wear shorts and no shoes. We got ravaged. We quickly finished our packing and started running down the path. The flies don’t bother you as long as you are moving. The river cross was a first for me. We wadded through knee deep rushing glacial water. It was actually really cold and quit painful for the final few steps. Sadly, Rebecca lost one of her sandals in the crossing. Once on the other side we were harassed again by sandflies as we put on our hiking boots.

    The trail was graded an easy trail so Rebecca and I had created certain expectations in our mind. In reality, it was not easy. The trail was rocky and muddy and was constantly undulating. We did have some splendid river views and cool swing bridge crossings but alas the rain returned and the wet dampness of the surrounding rain forest weighed on our mood. Since we anticipated it would be an easy hike we left late in the day which resulted in the final 20 minute stretch of the trail in the dark by headlamp.

    When we arrived at the hut we were the first to arrive (a few other late hikers arrived after us) and were greeted by a friendly warden that had made to much tuna noodle casserole. Not wanting her to throw it out we gladly accepted her left overs. The hut itself was giant 2 story structure with 4 bunk rooms. Each bunk room had about 8 beds lying sided by side on a platform. We chose an empty room and changed into swim suits for the hot pools. After a short walk in the cold we found the pools which were delightful. There was a hiking club from Dunedin University sharing the pools with us. The pools were very shallow as we snuggled into the mud to look up the stars. It was an incredible experience with the stars and mountains in the background.

    The following day we awoke and after a quick breakfast set out to backtrack all the way to the car. I much prefer loop tracks. Backtracking is no fun. It was a slog, drizzly and overcast until the final kilometers. There was also supposed to be bridge work that day which could cause delays but we lucked out and didn’t run into any rangers working. We jumped into the car and hit the road right away to avoid the sandflies. No set destination, we headed north.
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