Routeburn Track Day 2December 20, 2016 in New Zealand
The second leg of the hike consisted of 12 miles over the peak and into the Routeburn Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park. We were greeted with clear skies that morning, despite clouds being in the forecast. We made our breakfast, repacked our gear and peaced out just after 8.
The initial section took us up through a forest along the lake. As soon as we passed the treeline, the views turned spectacular. We could look down into the meadow containing the lake and hut, surrounded by freshly snow-capped peaks, partially lit up by the sun's rays. We were trailed by several curious mountain parrots, keas, along the way. Once we completed the climb out of the meadow, the Darren Mountain range came into view across the Hollyford Valley, with a thin cloud running for miles around eye level and the ocean visible in the distance. We stood at the top in awe for several minutes, staring at an alpine setting we'll never forget.
We continued traversing along the wall parallel to the Hollyford Valley for several more miles, passing creeks and waterfalls along the way. Then the trail turned upwards towards Harris Saddle which separates Fiordland from Mt. Aspiring National Park. As we ascended, a prominent peak came into view, followed by the deep blue Harris Lake. This area is the highest point on the Routeburn, at 1300m/4300ft. We ate lunch here, then continued walking along a cliff along the lake's edge, taking many pictures.
The way down Harris Saddle into Mt. Aspiring National Park already started to look very different than the Fiordland section of the track. The trail ran along a river and through a grassy meadow. The river was a pretty emerald blue and it eventually lead us to the next hut, Routeburn Falls. We made a quick pit stop here and happened to run into our fellow hut mate Elaine. She was in a rush to catch a bus back to Queenstown, but since that's where we were heading, we offered her a ride and she joined us the rest of the way.
We continued down a relatively steep section through the forest. There were several suspension bridges along the way, and we caught some great views of the valley. There was a great open meadow along the way. For the remainder of the trek, we continued along the river, crossing it several times and admiring its blue color.
Just over 7 hours after the morning's start, we arrived at the car park. We celebrated our achievement with miniature bottles of brut waiting in the car (which was relocated from the trail head). A 1 hour drive through Glenorchy and along glacier-blue Lake Wakatipu got us back to Queenstown. After an early dinner, we were in bed before 9.Read more