New Zealand week 7: it’s raining sunbeams

greenstone and caples track

As I’m writing this, I’m in my car. I’ve slept in Red today as there was yet another severe weather warning. For the fourth time during my (so far) two month trip so mother nature is sending a lot of bad energy around here at the moment. Week seven in New Zealand has passed since long but I wasn’t online much over the past couple of days after I hiked around for a while, spending most of my time offline. In fact I’m opening up my laptop for the first time in a week…
 
Even though a period of three months for New Zealand sounds like forever, I’ve concluded that it’s in fact nothing at all. There is simply too much to see and do around here, especially for a hiker like me the possibilities are pretty endless. And so I made a shortlist upon arrival in Auckland, with things I really wanted to see and do in those three months. I figured I’d go and aim to do those rather than having my mind run from one end to the other and draining me psychologically about all the hikes I could have made or still want to make and preventing me from coming home while thinking ‘yikes, I missed this and that and this again.’
 
The list is as follows:
– Picton: Mount Stokes
– Wanaka: Roys Peak en Rob Roy Glacier
– Queenstown: Greenstone & Caples Track
– Arthurs Pass: Devil’s Punchbowl en Avalanche Peak
– Mount Cook: Hooker Valley en Mueller Hut
– Nelson Lakes: Angelus Hut
 
The list is going quite well. In Picton the weather has been too bad so far but I’m getting yet another chance as I’m about to pick up my friend Marieke there who will join me for a part of my trip. In Wanaka I just did Roys Peak since the next day I injured my toe and never got any further than that, but again I’ll get another shot with Marieke. Arthurs Pass I’m at right now and in Mount Cook I already did Hooker Valley and I have a reservation for Mueller Hut in March. Angelus Hut I did and so that leaves the Greenstone & Caples Track, which I did last week.
 
Queenstown is my favorite spot in New Zealand, ever since I came here for the first time in 2002 I was very impressed by the beauty and setting of this town and its surroundings. The atmosphere in Queenstown is quite amazing too, it just breathes outdoor and adventure. Unfortunately I had already heard from people that Queenstown has changed a lot over the past couple of years. This also showed when trying to make a reservation for a bed in a hostel, it was nearly impossible to find a place that is somewhat affordable as well. From what I’ve heard, the New Zealand Government has even launched a ban for foreigners to buy a home because rich Chinese kept on buying all the properties here.
 
bobs cove queenstown
From the Tuatupere Hump Ridge Track I drove to Queenstown and from quite a distance I saw The Remarkables already: the sharp toothed mountain range which I think is in fact the most beautiful mountain range in the world. It can be observed from all over town and each time I see them I feel a little warm inside. It may sound odd but it truly is an amazing place.
 
Queenstown was very nice to me this time. I stayed for four nights and combined work with hiking. As my body needed a little rest after my struggles on the Hump Ridge, I didn’t do any major hikes but instead I went looking for the lesser known walks around town. And I found them because at beautiful alpine Lake Alta I was nearly all by myself. I also walked around Moke Lake and had a picnic lunch right at Picnic Point above Bobs Cove, with an amazing view of Lake Wakatipu. I had dinner at Fergburger twice, despite the endless waiting line (up to 45 minutes) and I strolled around the shores of Lake Wakatipu for hours. So in short: I had a really good time here, once again.
 
Lake Alta Queenstown
From Queenstown I also planned my next multi-day hike, the one over the Greenstone & Caples Track. I found out about these routes when I was hiking the Routeburn Track back in 2011 and I knew I was going to hike those trails one day. Both routes are just one valley further south than the Routeburn Track but there was an incredible difference in crowds. On both the Greenstone and Caples tracks I almost didn’t see anyone, as opposed to on the Routeburn Track which is a bit like a highway. At least, that was the case in 2011, but I assume that will only have gotten worse. I must say though that I’m still hiking the Routeburn this time again, as Marieke really wanted to do it and thus I could not refuse because it truly is a stunning trail after all. Sometimes I would run into someone in the valley but that only happened very few times, most times it felt likt I had the whole Greenstone or Caples Valley just to myself. I ran into other people in the huts though, but each of them had their own program. Some would just do an overnight trek, some where on the Te Araroa and some would walk in reverse. Eventually I hiked a bit more than 60 kilometers in four days, not too bad if you ask me. I’ve come across a few challenges but the good thing about solo hiking then is that all you have to reply on is you. All you can trust is your own common sense and intuition. Eventually that worked just fine for me, however I was somewhat glad I had made is back to the car safe and sound after four days. A shower and a decent bed were more than welcome, as well as an XXL barbecue chicken pizza. Sometimes you should just give yourself a giant treat, right?
 
Greenstone & Caples Track
By now I’ve reached the north of the South Island again and I’m awaiting my friends’ arrival. In the mean while I’ve also been to Arthurs Pass National Park and did some other things, but more on that later. For now, until next week!
 
Want to read more about my previous New Zealand adventures? You may also like the following posts:
New Zealand week 3: about weather gods and angels
New Zealand travel tips for first timers
Hiking in New Zealand – the best places
 
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Thanks for sharing!
 

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