Thursday, June 30, 2011

Queenstown Holiday - Part 2

The next couple of days the forecast was for cold and sunny so we attempted to do the Routeburn great walk. We packed up our rucksacks with our overnight gear and set off on a very frosty morning up the Routeburn valley. In the summer you have to book these great walks weeks in advance, but the nice thing about doing it in winter is that you can just pick your weather and go for it, and there usually aren't many other people on the track and competing for the beds in the huts.

Crossing the Routeburn River at the start of the track on a very frosty morning

Most of the track up the valley is in the beautiful beech forest and doesn't get any sun at this time of year. But when you reach Routeburn Flats it was warm and sunny, so we stopped and had lunch at the hut there.

Looking down on sunny Routeburn Flats

From Routeburn flats the track climbs up the side of the valley and up towards the cirque or glacier bowl. We stayed at the Routeburn Falls hut just at the lip of the cirque. The views from the hut are probably some of the best from any hut in New Zealand, back down the valley with snow dusted mountains all around.

Sunset from Routeburn Falls Hut

After a very cold night at the hut - huddled around a pathetic fire with two other guys who arrived later we headed up into the cirque and tried to climb up to Harris Saddle. The last few entries in the hut visitors book had said that they had turned around due to the ice. We did the same as we didn't have crampons or axes with us.

Icy track with a steep drop off into Lake Harris when you get around the corner

Helen and Harris Lake

So we headed back down the way we had come and back to the comfort of the bach.

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