Sunday, January 7, 2018

Routeburn Track

The road to Glenorchy, the start of the Routeburn Track
About 8 years ago, Caroline and I walked the Milford Track from Te Anau, across mountains to Milford Sound. It was a breath taking experience, culminating in a cruise around the fjord at Milford. It is one of the most special experiences I have ever had the privilege to undertake. This time, I was able to take a day walk along the Routeburn Track. I took a guided walk with Ultimate Hikes which was great as our guide was knowledgeable on both flora and fauna in the region, and kept a steady pace.

The Routeburn Track winds from Te Anau to Glenorchy, or vice versa. I was staying in Queenstown, so I walked from Glenorchy. The drive to Glenorchy from Queenstown along the side of Lake Wakatipu is considered one of the most beautiful in New Zealand, which gets things off to a good start. The walk then climbs as it follows the Route Burn, the river that the track is named after.

The Route Burn through the forest
The flora is varied, with ancient native beech trees towering over dozens of different ferns and many varieties of trees and flowers. Unfortunately, mountain lilies weren't flowering, so I didn't get to see any, but there was plenty to see and the light was beautiful at times.

No end of ferns dominated the track.
Sun kissed ferns by the path

Trees and ferns dominate the track
We stopped for lunch at a meadow with the Routeburn Falls in the background. There were spectacular views all around, and one of the oldest trees known on the track, a red beech estimated to be between 800-1000 years old.

Lunch time view

The way from which we came
A flowering Ribbonwood partly obscures a most ancient beech tree.

We walked back the same way we had come with a detour for a native forest loop. The guide talked of forest regeneration, and how moss and fungi help support and maintain the forest. I learned a lot from the walk, experienced sheer, natural beauty, and walked further over uneven terrain than I have for a long time with my legs telling me so after. 

I saw an array of different birds on the track, including Paradise ducks, Robins, Riflemen and Fantails. We heard Yellowheads, but didn't see any. Once again, New Zealand is proving to be a wonderful natural paradise, with different delights to see each time I travel here.
Ribbonwood flower falls on ferns

Sweet yellow daisies were in abundance

I'd love this to be an orchid, but I don't know, not the clearest shot either!

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