Nelson Lakes National Park, NZJune 13, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C
There's a fair amount of preparation that goes into tramping. I'd forgotten. As had I forgotten that hiking is an unsuitable word for what is clearly tramping, no offense to you non kiwi readers. The art of finding a walk requires somewhat more effort than say, finding a new series on Netflix; after all, you can't really just close your screen when you've had enough. After much googling, a trip to DOC and much more googling we discovered that DOC is just amazing. Oh, and we chose the overnight walk to Angelus hut. Cat can't handle me smelling for more than one night.
It was the obvious choice but we felt a lot of discouragement for the track conditions at this time of year. Our back up was the alpine circuit in Kahurangi NP overnighting in Salisbury hut. Nonetheless we grew a pair and headed out to Nelson Lakes at an hour on Saturday morning that shan't be repeated.
Pinch Gut was an apt name for the first hour of consistently steep ascent which culminated in penetration of the low lying cloud. From there, the ascent continued, tapering throughout the day, oddly in sync with the ever reducing cloud cover. As we neared the end of Robert Ridge some epic views opened up to the west, but not soon enough for us to see Lake Rotoiti in all her might.
A sketchy ridge ride took up much of the afternoon as my trusty work boots struggled for traction control. The rocky, snowy ride down did not look like fun.
Angelus hut came into view in the mid afternoon, placed angelically in the centre of what might have been a crater, perched between two defrosting lakes and now baking in full sun. In my excitement to arrive, I slipped on the descent, hurting nothing but my pride as we skidded into camp with the day's gumbi award safe in my arms - Richard 1, Cat 0. My perfect streak broken.
We were in the nick of time to snag two of the last five bunks in a 28 bed hut which end up sleeping 35 guests that night!! And what a party it was: 8 rowdy and excitable post high schoolers, a group of 10 from South America bringing wine by the box (yes 6 bottles in one bag), whiskey and jager (??!?), plus a myriad of other international, regional and local trampers, all surprisingly below the age of 35.
The beauty of this place was rivaled only by Bonniedoon. As was the sun, the sunset and the stars. Wow! Worth the walk twice over if you ask me!
There were some antics that night but all told everybody was reasonable and in fact, the stupidest of activities was undertaken the next morning when two idiots walked into the centre of the lake unfrozen just the day before. Possibly the same guy who jumped through the ice for a swim on saturday afternoon. Madness.
We chose the Speargrass track down the next day which commenced with a short hike to the ridge summit (not Angelus summit - save that for summer) for more endless views. The next few hours were knee breakingly steep, and initally icy as I battled to avoid a blow out in yesterdays score. The alpine scenery, rivers, rocks and snow under the sun and absence of wind was just what we love about this country!
After a multitude of river crossings, it took forever to weave our way out through the beech forest but we had enough chocolate and candy and our fix of good views to see us through. We even had a fantail escort who saw us all the way back to Johnny.
Our 90min drive back to Nelson turned out to be a perfectly timed run for the Blues Hurricanes kick off - I literally landed on my seat in the Vic as it started - and as if the cold, pints, hot chips and a Blues victory could have left any room for a better day, we topped it off with a spa at Anny and Stu's and a few red wines.
I won't be forgetting that for a while.Read more