I finally had my first real life NZ tramping experience! It was awesome, and I hope there are many more to come. In this spirit, I have created a new post series titled “Track Trek” where I will be providing summaries of all my tramps [edit – new tag is just “Camping”]. For those of you not from New Zealand tramping is equivalent to hiking, not what you think it is.
My first tramp was on the Caples – Greenstone loop. It took 4 days (07-04-15 to 10-04-15) during which we traveled a total of 57.5 km (35.7 miles) with a 671 m (2,200 ft)vertical accent/descent. I went with two of my office mates and an Australian visitor.
The track is located in the Fiordlands National Park, which is about a 4 hour drive from Dunedin, but well worth the trip. The park is located in a mountain range that spans most of the western coast of the southern island. This range is formed through subductive action of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which New Zealand straddles. These mountains were then carved out by glaciers during the last ice age, which gives them their distinctive topographical features such as deep river basins and moraine wetlands.
On the first day we meet up in the early morning, got a tall take away cuppa coffee, and started our journey with a short road trip. After pleasant drive through the scenic countryside, we hiked into the first hut at 8.4 km in. The Department of Conservation maintains many huts around New Zealand. The are minimalist trail houses with running water, wood burning stove, counter space for cooking, tables for eating, and bunks.
On the second day we hiked 20.2 km as well as most of the vertical as we traveled to McKeller Hut from Mid-Caples Hut. Most of the hike was though beech forest, though there was a substantial area of alpine bog as we traversed McKeller Saddle. This was by far the most intense day of hiking and I was worn by the end of it. I also got some nice blisters.
On the third day we hiked to Mid-Greestone Hut from McKellar hut, a total of 18.1 km. We had some stunning views as we walked past some lakes, and even managed to take a swim at the beach. Most of the hike was beech forest. We were able to see many green basalt rock formations from which the track gets its name. Those stones are precious to the native Maori culture and are often worn as ornaments.
On day four we traveled to the car park from Greenstone Hut (10.8 km). Most of this was in the valley basin where we were able to see many sheep and rivers. We also saw many fungi growing in the wet soil. It was an easy and relaxing final day to an awesome trip.
In conclusion, my first tramp was rad as. It was one of the coolest things I’ve done since being in NZ and I can’t wait for the next one! Who wants to go with me?