the Kepler Track - across the tops
Sunday 9th February
When we set off around 9am it was clear with some clouds, but the mist
gradually settled on us. We did the side-trip to climb Mount Luxmore,
but there were pretty much no views from the top, just occasional glimpses
of Lake Te Anau. So I took photos of plants at the top instead.
the dunny at Forest Burn shelter
I was afraid the whole day would be like that, but it started clearing
soon aftewards and most of it was glorious. If the number of photos
I took is a guide, this was the most scenic day of the entire New
Forest Burn shelter had a dramatically placed dunny (Australian slang for
outdoor toilet). Murielle's knee was bad - she was clearly limping,
especially going downhill - but one of the other walkers had lent her
a walking stick and that helped.
Kea photographing frenzy
A bird-watching interlude
A separate page has an account of our encounter with two Kea/New Zealand parrots
- and some closeup photographs.
As we continued along the track the views became even better, with 360
degree panoramas in some places (for the purists, sometimes spoilt by
tiny bits of farmland at Te Anau).
We had lunch just before Hanging Valley
shelter. Murielle's knee was really bad and she was taking painkillers,
so Camilla and I started carrying some stuff for her.
looking up Iris Burn at the Kepler Mountains
There was a final set of all-around views from a lookout point just before
the long descent (700m) to Iris Burn hut started. Murielle's knee was
worst going downhill, but fortunately the track zig-zagged enough that
she made it down without problems.
We got into Iris Burn hut around 6. I grabbed us places in the big
bunkroom - where there were no beds, just mattresses on the floor -
then Camilla and I did the 20 minute walk upstream to the waterfall.
Camilla was all geared up for a swim - it was still quite warm - but
by the time she'd finished stripping to her bikini [inclusion of a
photograph has been vetoed] there were a dozen sandflies on her back,
and swimming was quickly aborted. There were also sandflies around the
hut - they were bad in the toilets, but fortunately the ones that got
into the kitchen clustered on the windows and weren't a problem.
It wasn't a bad hut, by any means, but I definitely preferred the other
two we stayed in. During the hut ticket check and safety talk, the hut
warden mentioned that there was a pair of kiwi over the river and that
they could be heard at night.
Camilla and I went insect spotting and saw some spiders and huntsmen,
but no weta. We did, however, hear the kiwi calling to one another,
the male with a high pitched call and the female with a strange, low
coughing call. We had a brief conversation in the dark with a camper
at the nearby campsite. (There are campsites here and at Brod Bay,
so you can do the walk in three days without using the huts.) It had
been a long but most enjoyable day.
Next: Kepler Track - down Iris Burn
Previous: Kepler Track - to Luxmore Hut