It's been a while since we finished the Rees and Dart track so I probably remember it differently. I usually remember things more positively after a while but I definitely can say this track is hard, but let's go back to the beginning. First thing you should know, the Dart section is closed due to a severe avalanche which destroyed part of the track and made it impassable. The DOC say it will probably be closed until next season (October 2015). Don't worry too much, the best part of the track, the Cascade Saddle, where you can see the Dart glacier is open.
There are 2 options for you to do this track. Go all the way from the Rees Valley and return (4-5 days) or start from the Rees Valley and finish in the Aspiring Hut. We chose the return option because we actually didn't know of the second route, but note that you have to hitchhike or arrange trasport from the end of the track if you don't return the same way.
The sane way of doing the return track should take 5 days. The first day from Muddy Creek Carpark to the Shelter Rock Hut (19 km). The second day will take you to the Dart Hut (10 km), where you should stay 2 nights to allow the Cascade Saddle "side track" which is the highlight of the track. This side track takes one day to complete (20 km return). Than return the same way will take another 2 days.
The weather forecast was not as good as we hoped. The first 2 days should have been sunny but than the next 2-3 days will have some clouds, winds and rain. In a madness of a second I thought, why not combine the first 2 days into one (29 km), and then we'll have good weather in the day we climb the Cascade Saddle, the rest will be sections that we already saw and the weather won't be a big issue. And so we did.
We started the 29 km journey at the Muddy Creek Carpark at 07:45. The way to the carpark is not a paved road and there is no sign that indicates you are on your way to the Rees Dart track but the "Rees Road" sign was good enough. Passing this back country road required crossing 4 fords, similar to the fords on the way to the Rob Roy track. Although we were told it's not possible to cross the first section of the track without getting wet we tried to find our way through the swampy area for about 2 hours. Not only it slowed us down, but eventually we stumbled in a deep muddy stream and we had to change our shoes to the sandals we brought. Starting the track with the sandals could have saved us time on this long day. The mud was not the only problem in this section, the poorly marked trail takes you through thick bush and slippery detours when trying to avoid the deeper part of the river. After 4 hours we finally got to the park boundary. From there the trail is better and there is no need for sandals or crossing deep streams. It took us another 2:20 hours to get to the first hut, Shelter Rock Hut.
I read in some places that the Rees Dart track is considered to be the most beautiful track in New Zealand, but in my opinion, not only that it's not the case, the track is too hard and not rewarding enough. I would prefer the Routeburn, the Kepler and the Milford. There is a good reason why these tracks are Great Walks. If you love more challenging walks than the great walks that can be a great track for you.
We came back to Queenstown and had no accommodation for that night because we weren't sure we'll finish the track in 4 days. Luckily, the iSite was very helpful, they found us a good place to sleep for that night in 3 minutes. Dinner at Fergburger and desert at Patagonia was exactly what we fantasized on most of the track. Resting was our mission for the next days. Unbroken and American Sniper were excellent movies, I really recommend both of them. Next are the Kepler and the Milford tracks.