Finally! A sunn…..errr partly cloudy day! I wanted to make the most of my last full day in Dunedin, and the weather finally started to behave a bit. The peaks of sunshine warmed the ground considerably compared to the last few days and I had some exploring to do. First up was a factory tour.
But this wasn’t any old factory tour. Oh no.
It was cloudy, windy, drizzly and cold.
The library here sure is nice. I’ve been seeing a lot of it.
Thankfully, my anticipation of extended rain was WRONG. I awoke to wonderful sunshine.
Which was a good thing. This was the day we were hiking across the McKellar Saddle – the highest point of the track, and also the day with far and away the most significant ascent and descent. The saddle, which would end up being way up on the left hand side of the next picture.
This was a little bit of an unexpected detour on my part. Prior to hiking around Mt. Cook, Hanna had mentioned the Greenstone-Caples circuit track, a 4 day, 60km valley and mountain-pass trek, in the same area as the famous Routeburn Great Walk (which I’ll be hiking in just 2 weeks from today). Many people actually complete the Routeburn and then use the Greenstone track to get back on the Queenstown side of the mountain ranges you are hiking across. But the Greenstone-Caples track is a more complete circuit, and far less expensive. The Greenstone was one I had wanted to see but had written off as a track I’d miss due to time/other hikes. The option of having an excellent hiking partner for the 4 day tramp changed my mind. And so after waiting out bad weather in Queenstown for 2 nights, I found myself at the start of the Greenstone-Caples track.
You can walk the track in either direction. Hanna and I opted for the Greenstone first, returning on the Caples track. This way, the hardest day, crossing the McKellar Saddle, would be the third day, and our packs lighter than if we took the Caples track first, which would have us crossing the saddle the 2nd day instead. This turned out to be a very good choice for a number of reasons. For much of the first, short day on our way to the Greenstone Hut, we walked amongst forest scenery.
On the drive from Mt. Cook to Queenstown, I had a few stops I wanted to make. First, I stopped and hiked down to the shores of Lake Pukaki.
Just a lovely sendoff from the Mt. Cook Area.
A bit outside of Mt. Cook township was my last major hike in the region, so I hit it as I drove away and bid adieu to a wonderful area of New Zealand. That spot was the Tasman Glacier and Terminal Lake.
You can barely make out the actual Tasman glacier – it’s completely rock covered from its journey from high in the mountains to the lake. The glacier face is at the far end of the lake.
The next day I took to my 3rd big hike in the Mt. Cook area, this time to the Sealy Tarns. This would be the other ‘difficult’ hike of the 4, and constituted another endless stair climb. But when climbing the stairs, it means you are getting higher…and better views await those at altitude.
I opted for a slightly later morning start than the previous day (9am instead of 7am), and the weather was turning out to be even BETTER than the previous day.
First was a stop at Kea Point, a fairly flat walk to a look out over Mueller Lake and towards Mt. Cook.
A wonderful, sunny day. Then starting the Sealy Tarns track, you gain elevation quickly once again.