Becoming a Fiordland Tough Man/Woman
Trip Start May 31, 2010
73Trip End Nov 28, 2010
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On our way we headed through Riverton, which established in 1818 is the oldest establishment on the south island. We also stopped for lunch in Tuatapere, which according to the tacky sign just outside of the town, is sausage capital of New Zealand. Although I am partial to a good sausage, I opted for blue cod and chips. The Kiwis have been ranting and raving at me for weeks now about their 'fush and chups', like they came up with the idea of battering fish or something. I must admit, it was pretty good. But I'm still disturbed by the fact they offered to put chicken salt on my chips. Yup, you read correctly, chicken salt. They offered me chicken flavoured salt, but when I asked for vinegar, they looked at me like some sort of drunken lunatic.
After lunch we stopped at Lake Manapouri, the site of the first real green battle between the people of New Zealand and its government
The main activity for the day was to head towards Gunn's Camp, the settlement developed by toughboy cowboy hero of New Zealand David Gunn. After leaving his family and setting up the most secluded farm in New Zealand, Gunn decided to open up the Firodland to tourists and developed many walking paths in the area. However, it's the heroic acts of 1936 that David Gunn is really remembered, he saw an aeroplane crash into the sea and walked (more likely ran) to get help. The impressive thing about this was that Gunn covered a distance in 20 hours what usually takes a normal person 4 days to complete. Leg-end.
We were lucky enough to stay at Gunn's Camp, David Gunn's hut settlement in Hollyford Valley, in the Fiordland National Park. There were ten small huts all containing two beds, two bunk beds and a a fireplace. I bunked up with three other Stray travellers (Fiona, Becky, Becca and Joup) to toast marshmellows and huddle around the heart playing cards for the night. Hardcore.
It was full moon whilst we stayed at Gunn's Camp and the sky looked spectacular as it lit up the mountains and reflected off the clouds that were creeping into the valley
After a pretty cold night for the crew in the huts, I realised how amazing it is to think Gunn and the familes who settled there managed so well. We were blessed with blue skies, but in snow or rain those huts would have been brutal. Huge thanks must go to Joup for his dedication getting the fire going again at 5in the morning so we didn't freeze to death. He did get a certificate from the owner for his heroic efforts, but I don't think I thanked him enough at the time!