Last days in Fiordland

Well, then, after four months in Te Anau on the edge of the Fiordland, here I am on the departure. I spent the last ten days, finally freed from work, organizing my trip and doing some activities.

I went for a three-day hike in the Monowai and Green Lakes area. Located 60km south of Te Anau, the corner is filled with small and large lakes. I had in mind to join the beginning of the ride by bike. Which meant doing 60km by bike before even started walking. Contrary to my predictions, my expedition turned out to be the worst hike of my life! Cycling, with a 10kg backpack on the back for 60km on wavy (very wavy) roads of New Zealand, it’s a very bad idea! I was thinking of joining the start of the hike in four hours, it took me seven hours! The pain of the bag on my shoulders and on my ass, the wind on my face and big climbs made my journey longer than expected.

The hiking trail was very small, difficult and steep. And since it had rained all the January month and especially the day before, the trail was filled with water, ultra muddy and there were small rivers everywhere. During the hike, I found myself walking at night, having legs and feet soaked permanently, I lost the trail, I spent five hours during the night trying to progress through the jungle of Fiordland forest, I hurt myself by falling along a slope, I walked for two hours he water up to the waist in the edge of the Green Lake, I was very cold, I made a fire to try to dry my soggy shoes, I had my legs covered with bruises, I got a lot of rain, I spent the night in a tiny shelter with just two beds, I ran out of water, I made twenty kilometers on a gravel road at a snail speed, I was hurt everywhere, I cursed my idea of going for a hike in the surrounding area, I pushed my limits beyond what I thought I could do, I spent the night in a cottage that was dated but resembled paradise for me, I earned good lessons, I hitchhiking for the first time (with a bike) and I spoke with a local farmer who looked like a peasant but who for me was a savior, while he was bringing me back To Te Anau in his pick-up.

The least I can say is that this hike was not easy. But that taught me a lot about what not to do, about my own limits and proved me once again the kindness of the New Zealanders.

Green Lake - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

After these misadventures, I spent a few days resting physically and morally in the Remnant family. I was staying with the parents of Julie, the young woman of the farm where I worked last August. Jill and Alan, are extremely nice but very busy and work at quite different schedules. So we did not see each other a lot.

I also went for two days of Kayaking in the Doubtful Sound. The experience was very interesting and impressive. And I got a pretty good weather almost constantly! Paddling in the fjord is something incredible. One feels penetrated by the beauty and the mystery of the place. The first day we spent about six hours paddling in the immensity of the fjord before spending the night in a campsite next to the water. The second day we returned to our starting point with an absolutely splendid weather. A beautiful expedition that would have been perfect without the presence of sandflies! These tiny flies / mosquitoes are real bloodthirsty monsters that devour you in an instant. I have the body full of stings that itch greatly. (More details on my adventure, in a future post).

Overnight Kayak - Doubtful Sound - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

And finally, I took care of setting up my adventure by bike. Yes, I’m leaving for two and a half months cycling through New Zealand! So I bought a more robust bike, all the necessary equipment (luggage racks, bags, etc.) which was not a small deal and much more complicated than I thought. It must be said that I had not realized that going for a ride around NZ by bike requires a little preparation. I was thinking of taking my little green bike that I bought when I arrived at Te Anau, equipping it with bags and lets go for the adventure. It turns out that this was not possible, the bike being not robust enough.

So I became an “expert” about touring bike in a few days in order to prepare everything. Here I am finally ready, with a bike well loaded (20-25kg), ready to leave on the road! First stage: three days on a bike path / road through the mountains, camping in nature and cycling along Wakatipu Lake to reach Glenorchy, further north of Te Anau. Let’s be lucid, it may be difficult but I’m glad to get back on the move. It’s time to see the country! Bye bye Te Anau!

Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

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Trail notes is the gateway to my current journey and all that implies. This means lots of fun and adventures but also lots of interrogation points.

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Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

Overnight Kayak - Doubtful Sound - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld