River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Alex & Lovell's Grand Tour report

January 2004

Alex and Lovell describe part of their visit to New Zealand

Alex and Lovell's

Grand Tour > New Zealand > Fiordland National Park The Kepler Track New Zealand is known all over the world for its countryside, and what better way to see it than to complete one of the Great Walks through the Fiordland National Park at the bottom of the South Island. The Kepler Track is a three day walk covering 40 miles and climbing 1400 metres above sea-level through beech forest and along alpine ridges. Accommodation comes in the form of wooden huts, with bunk beds, cold water and gas stoves to cook on. We'd been in Te Anau for a couple of days before, sitting inside watching the rain bucket down, our view of the mountains obscured by dark clouds. Alex and I left on Sunday morning, tired from watching our victory at the 2003 Rugby World Cup final the night before, not quite ready to face the 5-hour uphill climb ahead loaded with 12kg packs containing our food, sleeping and cooking equipment. I didn't mind of course, as this was the first time we were going to do something away from the tourist trail, going to a place that no coach can reach, with no guide and only a handful of emergency chocolate. It was also sunny. On our way up the zig-zag paths, we saw that large parts of the track had washed away in the heavy rain. Reaching the bushline was rewarded with a spectacular view back over Lake Te Anau. Shortly after this was Luxmoore Hut at about 1200m, our home for the first night. We went caving that evening with a few others we'd met on the way up. The hut was full, with 50 British, German, Kiwi, Aussie and Americans vying for the 12 gas rings. This made an otherwise cold and exposed wooden hut feel rather cosy, despite having to eat noodles and powdered soup. Day two involved a further climb to the snow-capped peak of Mount Luxmoore, with great views over the National Park, as well as a photo opportunity next to the trig-point. Alex and I had been secretly mocking those with trekking poles, but now the pain was starting to kick our calf and thigh muscles. Everyone else was wearing professional mountain clothing, sported titanium poles and talked about how much training they'd been doing! We were able to fill our water bottle from a snow-melt stream, watched by a kea, the alpine parrot. We carried on along alpine hill tops, with greatly improved views at every turn as civilisation disappeared behind us. Sadly, the vistas had to end, so we descended back down into the valley to Iris Burn Hut, our bed for the second night. We took an evening walk to a waterfall before returning to play cards and eat the high fat/weight ratio fudge cake that I'd carried to the top of the mountain and back down again. The third day was a walk in the park by the previous two day's standards. We strolled down a valley passing fern after moss after moss after fern. After 40 miles and three days we reached the swingbridge that marked the end of the track, to find a sign marking the start, perfect for another photo.

Lovell Fuller

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