The morning of the 29th, George and I (and a bunch of other people) hopped on the Stray bus from Wanaka to Queenstown. It’s really not that far away but since we can’t check into the hostels until 2pm or after, the bus drivers draw the ride out way too long.
Anyway, we did a short hike before we left Wanaka up to the peak of Mount Iron.
Down the other side, we met the Stray Bus at a place called Puzzling World.
There was the most interesting tree at this place. It wasn’t quite a pine tree, but that’s what it reminded me of.
Another stop we made was at the Kawarau Suspension Bridge which is the oldest site for bungy jumping. There were a couple of people on the bus who were doing the bungy jumping so basically the whole bus got off and went to watch other people do the jump. The river was so incredibly blue-green; it was really beautiful.
We got into Queenstown and everyone hopped off for their respective accommodation arrangements. One of the girls I was traveling with (Nadja) told me that someone she was in touch with ahead of us had told her that Base Hostel in Queenstown was terrible and that we should make other arrangements. Nadja had arranged another room more on the outskirts of town and that they had space for me so I said yea sure! It was a little bit expensive, but oh well.
That afternoon, I had plans to meet up with my friend Kali (from Colorado) who I had met in Abel Tasman. We met up, walked around town, went to the Kathmandu store so I could replace my cup (which had been forgotten in my grocery bag back in Wellington), and had dinner at World Cafe. It was super awesome catching up with her before she flew to the north and then to Australia. And, we figured out that both of us want to go to Nepal at the end of March to trek into Everest Base Camp and meet super-duper mountain climbers! So, we’re working on those plans.
December 30th (Happy 29th birthday to me) and 31st
How did I get this old??!!?
Basically over these two days, George and I spent a lot of time planning our multi-day hiking trip. The great walks are very busy especially in the summer so it’s not very easy to get accommodation-reservations on the busy trails. But we were able to get one night reserved at the Routeburn Flats hut/campground. But we weren’t happy with just doing the Routeburn, we wanted to do a longer hike. So, when we went to the NZ Department of Environmental Conservation (DOC) office in Queenstown, they suggested the Greenstone-Caples track which was nearby, also with beautiful scenery, and it was less busy. There were also huts on this trail with first-come-first-served bunks available but we wanted to camp. This worked perfectly: we could do the Greenstone track between January 2nd and 5th, and then on the 6th, we could hike a long day to our campsite reservation near the eastern end of the Routeburn track. You see, the Greenstone Track and the Routeburn track meet up at Howden Hut, about an hour from the western end of the Routeburn Track.
We discussed how to get to and from the beginning and end of the hiking tracks. George wanted to experience hitchhiking. Now, before Mom, Dad, and grandparents freak out!: hitchhiking is completely normal over here in Queenstown and the rural area that is around Queenstown. People (backpackers in particular) do it all the time. One of the girls on the Stray bus missed the bus one morning and, in order to not fall behind on her bus schedule, she hitchhiked from Queenstown to Gunns Camp and got there before the bus arrived (the bus did go to Milford Sound that afternoon) that’s pretty good! I was open to the idea of trying hitchhiking together at the end of our hike. I really wanted to have a definite start: to know exactly that someone was going to shuttle us to the start of the trail and about what time we would get there. So, we arranged a shuttle with Glenorchy Journeys that was going to pick us up at 8:15am on January 2nd.
Over the course of the two days, we also discussed extending our stay a bit longer and visiting Milford Sound together after we were done with the Routeburn track. However, when looking at the map, there is no easy/fast route from the eastern end of the Routeburn track (outside of Glenorchy) to Milford Sound. We would have to go all the way back to Queenstown and get some sort of transportation. From Queenstown, you have to go the long way around a really big lake (Lake Wakatipu) through Te Anau then north up to Milford Sound. All together it would be about a 4 hour drive. So, we considered hiking back from Routeburn Flats (location of our camping reservation on the eastern end) to Howden Hut and then camp at Gunns Camp for a few nights and go to Milford Sound from there. That would be two long days of hiking so we left that as an open-ended “option” to our trip. We weren’t sure how we would feel or what condition our legs would be in by that time.
Altogether, I estimated that we would walk approximately 60 kilometers over 6 days.
We had to plan our food which required estimating/figuring out how much we would eat in one day and then extending that out 6 or 7 days. I made an attempt at it but I’m pretty sure I started over thinking it with a line-by-line daily schedule of food. I was really, REALLY anxious that morning while trying to create the schedule of food and so that didn’t help. You see, my stomach was in knots because I had to tell my parents that I was planning to do a multi-day hike out in the middle of nowhere with a guy they don’t know. No pressure or problems there. I knew it would stress them out a lot, but this is the adventure of a life time! I have to do it! The struggle was real and my stomach was in a huge tight knot all morning and into the afternoon. But once I had met up with George and we were pulling together a real shopping list together, the anxiousness faded and excitement and anticipation replaced it.
We could have done with one less day of preparations but we got everything organized that we needed to in a nice and relaxed manner with lots of time for “coffee time”, walks by the lake, and good conversations.
We spent New Year’s Eve together; bought a bottle of moscato, watched the last sunset of 2017 right on the main beach area, and hung out in the main downtown park/waterfront area listening to the live band until 12:00AM when they set off the fireworks to ring in the new year. It was just a great way to close out 2017 and an even better way to bring in 2018: planning an epic adventure in the mountains of New Zealand!
Happy new year!!!
January 1st was grocery day: we went to the Queenstown Alpine 4Square grocery store and bought dry noodle soups, cans of beans, pasta, two loaves of bread, peanut butter, jelly, apples, carrots, prepared rice, raisins, and trail mix. We brought it to George’s room and divided the food in half for each of us to carry.
We also had our bags with gear/clothing/stuff packed to store at the hostel where we planned to stay when we returned and where I was staying for the night. Once the bags were in storage, I packed my half of the food into my backpack.
That evening, I took a long, hot shower washing as thoroughly as possible (shaved) because I knew I wouldn’t have a proper shower for at least one week. 😀 But it will be so worth it!
Finally – the adventure begins tomorrow!