Day 15 – three hour drive to Nelson Lakes National Park. Head turning landscapes lined our route on quiet roads. Beautiful, stunning, incredible, jaw dropping, mesmerising, clear blue skies sharpened and highlighted the mountains and hills at every turn of the road.
Winding, steep, up and through, hairpin bends, strategic viewpoints, then down onto open pasture, sheep, cattle, orchards of fruit, vines protected under great swathes of mesh, fresh veggie signs on the side of the road. Stop, start, stop start, tempting us, slowing our journey and us in the most magnificent way. The Glorious South!
Nelson Lakes National Park – lunch by Lake Rotoiti sitting outside in the warm sun looking over the lake.
Mount Robert – This was to be the biggest challenge so far for my renewed hip, not helped by the mis-navigation onto the wrong path which saw us trek forty five minutes through thick forest, heavily root lined difficult paths and some some steep ups and downs. With long-suffering muttering and groaning behind ‘how did I miss the path, I should have known, are you going to be all right?’ it was not a good start – especially as we had taken a photo of the map board as a guide!!
Back on the right trek the real climb began. Steeply uphill all the way, we zigzagged our way back and forwards on clearly marked ‘rootless’ tracks. In full sun for most, by halfway I was vying for ‘miss wet shirt’ along with long-sufferings ‘sweating man’ as behind me his concern was obvious ‘We can turn back, we don’t have to go all the way up’ followed by my curt retort ‘We do! I’m not getting this far and giving up now!’
On we went, funny enough, my revised hip was fine, it was our calves, thighs, glutes and poor long-sufferings feet that had started aching. And then after a few false ‘Sarah we are there’ as another bend and track presented itself, we actually were there and oh the feeling of getting to the top – miraculously on flat ground recovery was instant – was like no other.
Hugging like our lives depended on it, we broke apart on our ‘Top of the world’ all 4,600 feet of it, our heads swivelling to drink in the 360 views extending as far out as our eyes could see, enhanced by beautiful clear blue skies.
We looked down, to our lunch stop lake, now tiny below us, forests and hills in the distance. On the very top alpines, succulents and grasses blowing in the strong breeze nothing tall survives here. As we strolled over the top a hut stood as shelter, complete with a rain water tank for anyone stuck here against the elements – a frightening thought.
The down track was steeper with less zig-zagging paths, now it was the turn of our knees to suffer, with no respite from increased pressure by the end we were both long-suffering!
Back in our trusty Aramoana it was off to Maruia Falls for our next Freedom Camp.