The Great Walk

Sunrise at Lake Sylvan D.O.C Campsite….

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Routeburn Falls Track, Day Walk 18km return …. Weather set fair but cold. All our previous walks had gradually – we hoped – prepared us for this long steep climb!

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The track began from the shelter car park, gently winding in a gradual ascent through thick beech forest affording flashes of turquoise and emerald  from the Route Burn River that accompanied us along the way. The Waters were crystal clear and the gentle swoosh and at times thundering rush of the water was ever present ebbing and flowing – a bit like us two!

We stopped by the river for a photo shoot, a paddle was tempting – I had packed a swimsuit – much to long-sufferings grumblings. Removing all my warm layers proved too much of a hassle in the end – he breathed a sigh of relief – that and the freezing cold waters! It was a rested diversion stop nonetheless!

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2BD77AB1-8BBE-4443-A1D9-5B4F7E6A6BEBB0494579-39DA-4064-BBD2-49511835BA8DAlong the way Bridal Veil Falls….

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An hour into the walk, my dodgy left leg was causing much discomfort on walking, causing me to lurch and limp Quasimodo style like old times!  Uneven terrain gave me cover from long-suffering noticing but just to be sure I dropped back behind away from his all seeing glances. Just when I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it to the top in an upright manner, the nerve, bursitis like pain receded, Quasimodo disappeared and the muse was back out in front again, with Long-suffering none the wiser…..until we got back that is!

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A toilet over the river halfway up to the flat huts

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A Swing bridge – not long-sufferings favourite lead us out onto open grassy flats, a welcome relief after the confines of the thick forest before. The first part of our climb was almost over, the more arduous uphill was about to start. Of course we had it easy crossing rivers compared with our predecessors!

From the middle of the valley, looking up we could just see our end destination – The Falls Hut – jutting out from the dense vegetation surrounding it.

The next part of the climb had us both discarding layers. The track often rocky, with Avalanche warning signs and part of the way precarious after a land slip had covered the pathway on its way over the sheer drop edge only made passable after, by the hard working ranger teams.

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Eventually after lots of wood steps we reached the huts, height 1,000m. The falls Huts were much bigger than we expected, looking more like lodges set into the ruggedness of a mountain. The panoramic views over valley and mountains were worth the effort and at times discomfort. We felt exhilarated as we sat eating our packed lunch in the warm sunshine looking out at such amazing beauty and listening to the birds flitting in and out of the trees. The South Island Robin, like our own garden Robin in England unafraid to get close.

In the walking season rooms house many communal bunks, kitchen, seating area around a wood burner, flush toilets, running cold water and a resident DOC Ranger. We met a couple who had stayed the previous night. ‘Freezing cold in the bunks – it was below freezing outside, but apart from that a great adventure!’

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Retracing our steps back down we felt accomplished and took comfort watching much younger walkers ascend red in the face and puffing as we nimbly made our descent!

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Actual walking time was almost 5 hours + 45minutes of view points and lunch.

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12 mile Delta freedom camp…. A real mix of static vans, caravans and mobile ones like us. We found a lovely spot looking through a gap to Lake Wakatipu. I was looking forward to putting my legs up after my highest step count in a day……

30,364 steps zzzzzzzzzzzz

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