After the other visitors had left us we picked up a small camper and were free to camp as we pleased. I finally got to stop and photograph some picturesque ruins I had spotted on our numerous trips up and down Lake Wakatipu then headed for Mavorra Lakes, a locals’ paradise, and we soon found out why. There were two lakes with a river between and lots of beautiful scenery.
On our way to the Divide to begin our walk into Howden Hut where our daughter is the summer ranger, we stopped to enjoy the scenery along the Milford Rd. A rainbow showed off the end of the showers and the many places to pull into along the road provided lots of varied scenery, mossy forests and reflected mountains.
It was a misty walk into Howden Hut which showed off the mossy forest to perfection. As the weather cleared in the evening Jess and I ducked up to Key Summit so she could clean the toilet and make sure the puddles were draining properly. It was my first visit of three over our stay, seeing the panorama in different light every time.
Rather than make the trip along the Routeburn Track on our day trip which we had walked before, we headed off along the Caples Track to Lake Mackellar and then up a well-made, gentle track to Mackellar Saddle. Back at Howden Hut we enjoyed the changing light over the lake as the sun lowered.
With the clear skies, Jessica and I headed for Key summit for sunrise and were well rewarded. As Ray and I walked out we also headed up and I saw it in full sun with blue skies – the postcard shots.
Five days after we left New Zealand Fiordland had a massive flood that knocked out roads and stranded many people. Howden Hut was hit by a landslide in the middle of the night but luckily there were no major injuries to the 32 people at the hut though the hut is written off. Jessica was not on duty and has now been relocated to repairing infrastructure on the Milford road. Here is an article about the ordeal.
We joined Jessica, who now had 6 days off, at Wanaka and walked into Aspiring Hut while her husband was on a canyoning course. It was an easy walk through farmland to the hut but the heat and lack of shade made it seem longer. Unfortunately the side trip to the impressive Rob Roy glacier was closed so we just had to peer through the gap.
We had two days to explore so we chose the easy options while Jessica climbed high. While we walked to the head of the valley she climbed 1000m to French Ridge Hut and then once back in the valley ducked up to Liverpool Hut, only 600m higher. It was our turn to climb the next day as we headed up to the tree line on the Cascade Saddle track. Naturally Jessica climbed all the way to the saddle!