Monday, April 02, 2007

The Boys are Back in Town...

Like the wild dogs crying out in the night, so too were some of the boys growing restless longing for some solitary company. They knew that they must do what's right...sure as Mt. Cook rises like Olympus above the flats of Southland. Seeking to cure what was deep inside, they were gonna take some time to do the things the never had... and by that, of course, we mean...

Morgan and Charlie took a week off from work to tackle one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks': the famed Routeburn Track. Hurry boys, it's waiting there for you...

Luckily Irish John (as previously featured in the 'Waiterere Weekend' post) was planning on driving most of the way there already, so the boys tagged along. We are forever in his debt. Speaking of debt, in an effort to save a few dollars in ferry costs, Morgan hid in the back seat of John's tiny Subaru as they boarded ship just before 2am.

"Hey Morgan, there's a bunch of people milling about right now...you're going to have to stay under there a bit longer. Sorry, dude." 5 minutes later Morgan emerged to an eerie Vanilla Sky-esque 3 hours on a deserted and sealed off vehicle deck/cargo hold...parked next to a delightfully fragrant cattle transport... but, as is true with any great epic, there can be no victory without suffering, no freedom without sacrifice, no triumph without loss.

It was sunrise in Picton, lunch in Christchurch, and sunset outside Queenstown, with the road between filled with driver changes, map checks, nap times... and that one scary moment when Morgan regressed to driving on the right (read: wrong) side of the road. Eventually we pulled up to the Base Backpackers where the chick at the front desk filled out John's paperwork for him, believing him to be illiterate...nope, just Irish. Dinner at Hell Pizza and a few drinks at the bar was more than enough to put us down for the night.

Ok, enough with character development...on to the rising action. Once again indebted to John for saving us an early morning shuttle ride, it was time to hit the trail. Admittedly the opening few kms up the Routeburn River to the aptly named Routeburn Flats didn't rise much, but after a solid few hours along the river's north branch standing in tall grass looking up at tall mountains, it was time to head for higher ground. The track itself, as with most of New Zealand's other so-designated Great Walks, numbers are regulated and trampers must stay in DOC maintained huts and/or campsites. While having gas stoves and bunks provided along the way made us feel perhaps only medium-core, we used that extra pack space for necessities like cheese and crackers, Nutella, and a bottle of fine red wine.

For the next three days we traversed ever-changing landscapes of spectacular and truly ineffable magnificence. Track follows the Routeburn River up through Mt. Aspiring National Park to it's source at Harris Lake, then crosses the Harris Saddle into Fiordland National Park. From the 1515m summit of Conicle Hill (a side trip up from the saddle) we felt on top of the world, looking out all the way to the Tasman Sea. The weather turned out better than anything we had dared hoped for...clear blue skies and deep starry nights. And talk about timing, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain not even an hour after we stepped off the track.

That night saw us back in Queenstown, where we had a good old-fashioned piss-up to celebrate our return. When both the actual and metaphorical fogs lifted the next morning, it was a gorgeous day spent in quiet Qtown doing nothing much more than resting our legs, checking to see how badly the auto-draft option had hurt our fantasy baseball rosters, and watching almost every over of the Blackcaps win over the West Indies... that, and preparing ourselves mentally for the oh-so-exhasuting sojourn back to Wellington.

7:30 -3:00 Queenstown - Christchurch
4:00 - 9:15 Christchurch - Picton
10:00 - 1:15 Picton - Wellington

Oh well, it was $200 cheaper than flying. And we got to watch the moonrise over the Pacific Ocean from the sleepy little beach town of Kaikoura. Moments like that are hard to argue with.

While photos can't nearly do it all justice, they do a much better job than my ramblings, so click here for a more shots taken along our journey.

Now it's back to work in Wellington, which today meant 13 hours. So, until next time...

I'm going to bed.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those web-album photos are unbelievable! Can you guys make a calendar for sale or something?

C. Trainer said...

I am really enjoying all the travel I get to do through all of you. A calendar might be a very good idea.

Miguel said...

the photos of the album are very pretty. It impresses the pretty thing to me that is New Zealand. As I am fond to astronomy has fascinated me the photo of the constellation of orion the other way around (seen from the South hemisphere) for my in inverse sense (North Hemisphere) and soon I believe that the other is the constellation Crux (Cross) (invisible from where I write to you) and which I believe that it appears in your flag. Congratulations, is magnificent.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures! I will check this site out more!

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Anonymous said...

So far nothing conflicting is happenning amongst you all.

Anonymous said...

beautiful pictures. hope to see some more from you!

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Chinese Style said...

I was one of the Chinese students studying tourism management. New Zealand has a very long, but there was no chance. Enjoyed your article on New Zealand can learn more about the story. I will be very concerned about the future of your room, and you can hope to become friends.

Renegade said...

Great blog! The photos are excellent!!!

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