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Feb 5
2015

Gotta Love The Bush

Leaving Queenstown wasn't easy. For those who traveled in South America it would be like leaving Bariloche. Good food, amazing vibe and great tracks around it makes Queenstown the best city in New Zealand for travelers. Wanaka would be the same as El Bolson, the same atmosphere but smaller and not as much long tracks in the area. Even the distance between both cities is a 2 hour drive.

Te Anau on the other hand is almost the opposite. Only 2 hours drive from Queenstown, Te Anau also located near a big lake, and just like Queenstown and Wanake, it's a well known base for great tracks. The most famous are the Milford track and the Kepler track. But, Te Anau is boring, doesn't have good food except some great pies (Miles Better Pies) and expensive for no reason. The service in most of the restaurants is awful and there are no attractions for rainy days although it often rains there.

Shortly, Te Anau is not a place you'll want to stay more than you have to. We arrived in the afternoon and didn't do much. The day after was rainy but we decided to try and see some nice views along the Milford Road. The Milford Road is the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound, it's about 120 km and there are lots of mountains, lakes, attractions and short hikes along the way. After a 1 hour drive in the rain we stopped near the Mirror Lake and waited in the car. The rain didn't stop and after half an hour we returned to Te Anau.

On February 2nd we started the Kepler track. The forecast was bad. 4 days of rain and even snow down to 700 meters. Most of the first day is in the bush. It took us an hour to get to the brod bay camping site. From there another 2 hours to the bush edge. It was raining all the time but the bush protected us from the wind and the rain. Once we got to the bush edge the rain almost stopped and by the time we arrived to Luxmore Hut, which took half an hour, the sky started to clear. We took advantage of the good weather and went to see Luxmore Cave near the hut. Worth the 10 minutes walk.

Luxmore Hut, Kepler Track Luxmore Hut, Kepler Track

Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track

Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track

Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track Luxmore Cave, Kepler Track

The next day, against all odds, we had great weather. Instead of rain and snow, apart from some drizzle in the morning, the sun came out, and we even saw a rainbow. We climbed to the Luxmore summit, which is a 10 minutes side track and the view was amazing.

Luxmore Summit, Kepler Track Luxmore Summit, Kepler Track

Luxmore Summit, Kepler Track Luxmore Summit, Kepler Track

The trail goes on the ridge and the view from both sides is beautiful. Suddenly Maya spotted Keas near the trail. After so many tracks with warnings from Keas stealing things, we finally saw them.

Kea, Kepler Track Kea, Kepler Track

Kea, Kepler Track Kea, Kepler Track

Kea, Kepler Track Kea, Kepler Track

It was such a lovely day so we stopped to take lots of pictures. The walk on the ridge ends with a steep decent to the bush. It took us 4.5 hours to get there and another hour to get to the hut. This pretty summed up the view on the track.

Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track

Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track

Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track Forest Burn Saddle, Kepler Track

Iris Burn Hut, Kepler Track Iris Burn Hut, Kepler Track

There is another 20 minutes walk side track to the Iris Burn Waterfall, we went there with some guys we met on the track. Great place to relax, but don't forget your sandfly repellent.

Iris Burn Waterfall, Kepler Track Iris Burn Waterfall, Kepler Track

Iris Burn Waterfall, Kepler Track Iris Burn Waterfall, Kepler Track

The next 2 days are in the bush and the trail is mostly flat. Actually, the third day which is 16.2 km took us only 3 hours to complete. We arrived to the hut at 12:00 and could easily finish the track that day, but we already paid for the hut and didn't have a place to stay in Te Anau, so we stayed there.

Bush, Kepler Track Bush, Kepler Track

Bush, Kepler Track Bush, Kepler Track

Bush, Kepler Track Bush, Kepler Track

After a while the sun came out again and the view from the beach of lake Manapouri was beautiful. We returned to the beach again after 5 hours and noticed that the mountain we saw at noon is now covered with snow. It took only 5 hours for the weather to change the landscape dramatically.

Manapouri Beach, Kepler Track Manapouri Beach, Kepler Track

Manapouri Beach, Kepler Track Manapouri Beach Before The Snow, Kepler Track

Manapouri Beach, Kepler Track Manapouri Beach After The Snow, Kepler Track

The last day was boring too and we decided to end the track in the Rainbow Carpark, and take the shuttle to the Kepler Carpark, which saved us 9.5 km of walking in the bush.

Red Mushroom, Kepler Track Red Mushroom, Kepler Track

If we knew we can walk so fast we could have started the track from the Rainbow Carpark, which makes the first day longer, but then we could have finished the track within 3 days. Most of the track is in the bush, but with the weather we had, we were happy to walk protected from the wind and the rain. We learned to love the bush after hating it so much in the beginning of our trip. It was a great track and easy enough.

We finished the track and had a day to rest before starting the Milford track but the weather was great and the snow still covered the peaks and so we decided to do part of the Milford Road and the Milford Sound cruise. I'll elaborate on it in the next post.