Manapouri to Cromwell

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, June 16, 2008

After breakfast we headed up to Rainbow Creek, a point on the Kepler Track, one of the long-distance NZ "tramping" tracks which are all over the country. Rather than trying the full walk of 3-4 days, this was our starting point for a 4 hour walk along part of the track to Lake Manapouri. The track crosses over a river (used in scenes from LOTR) by way of a couple of swing bridges through pristine beech forests and follows the river valley for a few miles. The forest is very picturesque and extremely green as the forest floor is covered in ferns and the trees in moss. There are large holes in the ground here and there and we half expected a hobbit to pop out at any time.

There were possum traps set along the way as possum fur is big businesss all over NZ. The fur (which must be plucked whilst the animal is still warm!) is renowned for its warmth and softness and is mixed with merino wool to make the very best outdoor wear and high end knitwear which is sold all over the country.

We also see so many different types of mushroom along the way that we lose count, but resolve to by a book on mushrooms so we can pick and cook a few on our travels.

On the way we take a diversion to a wetland reserve and stand in silence and watch the wildfowl take off and land on the lake. The silence lasts only until the helicopter flies over head, probably taking someone on a very expensive scenic flight across the lake.

Eventually we reach the lake at the end of this section of the track and yet again another spectacular view as the sun breaks through the morning mist hanging over the lake. We walk along the shoreline alongside the hundreds of ducks paddling in the lake until we reach the tramping hut.

These huts are all along the tramping tracks and can be used, for a small fee, by anyone who wants to walk the full length of the track which, in the case of this track, would take about 3/4 days. The hut is small and contains 4 bunks, a fire place and a cooking range. Outside there is a hand pump for drinking water, a long drop toilet and an axe for chopping wood (very Little Red Riding Hood!). What more could anyone need? This is known as one of the great NZ walks and its easy to see why.

After the walk we head off via Queenstown to Cromwell where, we arrive rather late and, rather than search out a campsite, we camp in the car park in the centre of town. In the morning we open the curtains to see we have parked right by the town sign , a 30ft high statue of an apple, pear and orange.    This is a major fruit growing region.
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