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The Milford Track

Battling against the elements...

overcast 7 °C

The next trip is one that I have been waiting for a while...it is the legendery Milford Track. We set of from Te Anau with map in hand. Our first stop is Mistletoe Lake which is so quiet and peaceful that we could easily spend the day there with a picnic. The drive is scenic and of course we stop frequently to take in the beautiful scenery which is only disturbed by the dreaded Sandflies. It is so quiet on the road it feels like we have the whole of the Milford Track to ourselves.

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We stop along the way to do the many walks and catch the many sights. Gav's particular favourite is the Mirror Lakes, I personally think every lake we've seen is a mirror lake. Our training for Machu Picchu takes a serious turn when we decide to hike The Divide. Training is really not going well as I am ready to go back after half an hour. GAv encourages me to go on and we get a fair way up. The weather isn't great, there is a lot of low cloud so we are basically hiking in the rain but it doesn't dampen our spirits as we take in the rock formations, the rain forest and waterfalls.

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We sing our way to the half way point where we bump into a couple going the other way. A brief chat revels the cloud is so low that there isn't a reward of a beautiful view once we get to the top. We carry on a little bit further but decide to turn back after hearing that visibility is very poor.

We get Wilma going and continue up the track. We are only a little way in when all of a sudden the scenery changes completely. The flat plateaus, the rain forests and small hills are all but disappeared and instead there are menacing mountains covered in snow. Gav and I look at each other, both completely scared. We are too far gone to turn back and reckon there is just enough day light left to make it to the other end. We're not sure what is more scary...the weather conditions, the road conditions or the mountains. Even as we continue at approx 20k/h we want to stop and take it all in but the fading light commands us to go forth. We are in awe as we go through the Homer tunnel which takes us through the mountain and onto the other side. And somehow the weather has worsened by the time we are on the other side. We slow down further still and by now we are not anywhere near where we should be and the daylight has gone. The drive to the end of the track is eerrie, both of us adding to the the tension with utter silence inside the van.

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As we get to the end of the track we have no idea of what to expect, we know that there is a body of water but we have no idea where and how far we are from it. We had planned on free camping but the weather has other plans and we decide to get into the one and only campsite at Milford. I am pleased to see the number of people in the lodge especially since I am convinced the Orks are coming and we have no chance in hell. To make matters worse we decide to watch Lord of the Rings...

As scared as I am we manage to get an early night only to be woken up a few hours later as the weather takes a turn for the worst. The wind is so strong thhat Wilma is rocking from side to side. Gav and I are so scared we have no idea about what we should do, do we stay in the van? Do we make a run for it and get inside? Should we try and move the van? Its rocking so hard I am convinced that the van is going to be blown into the body of water directly in front of us and that we are goners. There is only one other van at the campsite and it would seem they are in the same quandry by the way their lights are turning on and off. Knowing nothing about camping we try and signal with our torches but its to no avail as all their curtains are drawn.

We are so scared that all we can do is hold each other, none of us are saying anything but we both know the thoughts in the others head. We haven't spoken with our families in days and no one knows where we are. We eventually fall asleep only to be awakened a few hours later with an almighty hail storm, Wilma is being pelletted from all sides and we are helpless to do anything. Once again we manage to fall asleep.

The next morning is pretty weird, we open the door and the first thing to great us is a Kea. It provides some light relief after the events from the night before. We take a look around and there are branches everywhere and the camp furniture which was nailed down has been blown to the other side of the campsite. There is a stillness that is best described as Mother Nature telling us who is boss.

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We are told that the Track is closed until further notice so we have to sit and wait it out. We make our way to Milford Sound but decide not to take a boat based on our experience at Doubtful as well as the heavy and dark clouds that seem to be looming above us. Feeling utterly shattered and worn down by the weather, we force ourselves to walk around and take some pictures since there is nothing else we can do until there is further notice about the pass. Turns out Milford sound is ASTONISHINGLY beautiful when the weather is like this. The eerie, misty atmosphere makes it seem almost surreal. You see mountains behind mountains making you think your vision has blurred. Nothing short of phenomenal...

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At midday we are told the pass has re-opened and just as we get ready to leave a beautiful rainbow revels itself at the same time as the sun. There you go, you can't have it all...

We make our escape while the going is good and decide we are going to do a long drive to Queenstown where we'll stay for a couple of days to get over our Milford experience. We reflect on our night as we drive through the menacing mountains we both realise just how small we are in comparison to the forces of nature.

Posted by Gavness 10:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged events

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Comments

Awesome!, nice pictures,
hahahah "....we decide to watch Lord of the Rings!!"
cheers from chile!

by Patricio Andres CARDENAS MONTERO

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