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south

Browsing

Route:

The Divide –> Routeburn Track –> Key Summit Lookout Trail –> Routeburn Track –> Lake Howden –> Earland Falls –>  Routeburn Track –> The Divide

Total Distance:

~ 10 km (6.2 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7.5 – 8 hours (round trip)

(with plenty of time to take great shots, lunch & a quick swim under the waterfall)

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?!

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

The Routeburn Track is the ultimate alpine adventure that links Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park in the South West of South Island New Zealand. This tracks would take you through some unbelievable ice-carved valleys that stretched beyond your wildest peripheral vision. With majestic snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and meadows, it is no wonder this track is so popular amongst locals and tourists!

With Milford Sound also located nearby this track, it is no surprise that the Te Anau vicinity provides the most beautiful, serene scenes in trekking. And if you are strapped for time or do not want such a long trekking expedition, then refer to the ‘TIPS?!’ section in this article for alternative  routes you could consider! The thing I love about trekking is that it can suit anyone and everyone of varied fitness- AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE PASSION, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! 😀


 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Routeburn Track, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. According to Google Map, a straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you to the start of Routeburn Track in approximately 1 hr 9 mins (slightly shorter than the drive to Lake Marian). However, we took slightly longer as we had respites a.k.a taking photos! Haha! New Zealand is just so beautiful, everywhere is just a perfect picturesque sight you know. WE JUST HAD TO STOP TO SNAP! 😀

Turn right upon seeing the small brown signage ‘The Divide’. Routeburn Track carpark is just there.

 

Highlights and Views

On Routeburn Track

Considering the estimated time needed to complete the entire trekking route, I remember we woke up relatively early for this trekking experience. And oh boy, was this all worth every minute awake. By the time we got to The Divide it was about 8-ish am, the morning sun had already peaked out.

We started on our trek passed the initial canopy of forested area and soon the route started to open up to a whole new world- literally. It was at that point that it hit me like the shafts of sunlight raying down. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

And yes, I have seen many mountainous sight when in New Zealand and they all put me in great awe, but this was just inexplicably different. Accompanied by the absolute fresh crisp morning breeze and the mountains in the great distance beyond the valleys, I was really just speechless. It was perfect.

Up the Key Summit Trail

You will reach an intersection either heading towards the Key Summit or Lake Howden. We decided to first head for the Summit- considering this was the highlight; and just in case the perfect weather decides to go south etc.

The climb up the Summit through the alpine was pretty glorious as well. The view of the Hollyford valley was pretty magnificent from way up!

At the Summit

After trekking approximately 2 hours (from The Divide) with a few respites of STOP-AND-SNAP, when we finally arrived at the Summit!

The view of the mini pond with the snow-capped mountain as backdrop was all I longed to see on the Routeburn Track. And it was exactly how I pictured it. Pristine pond surrounded by damped mosses, it was a view that will remain etched in my mind.

It was quite a tranquil experience. Though, the Routeburn track is a popular route to most people in the Te Anau region, it was surprising that there were not many fellow trekkers hanging around the ‘final destination’. Where could they all be, I wonder?

Because we hadn’t really eaten breakfast, we had our first meal of the day ON A (FREAKING) MOUNTAIN! How awesome was that! A meal with a priceless view. It was such a bliss to just sit on a boulder, with the sun shining down, holding on to a cookie, munching and having a peripheral view of the Darran Mountains.

To be honest, I will do anything to go back and relive the moment with simplicity at its best! #travelmemories

Back on Routeburn Track en route to Lake Howden

We ate, took tons of photos, and told each other how we wished the moment never past. It was our longest rest we had (for about 1 hr 45 mins). Well… … Time flies when you are being in the moment and embracing the view, no?

Then it was time (close to noon) to get up on our arses and back on the Routeburn Track heading towards Lake Howden and then to Earland Falls!

When we arrived at the Howden Hut, which is next to Lake Howden, it was about an hour past noon. Howden Hut is a camping facility for campers who do overnight treks. I understand from fellow trekkers along the way that some had travelled from the Queenstown and were making their way to Te Anau.

So basically they trekked from Mount Aspiring National Park to Fiordland National Park. We witnessed a father and young son, probably 12 – 13 years old, on this very long journey. Kudos to the dynamic father and son duo! Alas, I am not that adventurous yet to try an overnight trekking expedition! Haha! Maybe one day… …

Earland Falls

About an hour trek from Lake Howden, we arrived at the almighty Earland Falls! To be honest, when we were at Lake Howden, we were contemplating if we should give Earland Falls a miss. We were considering the amount of daylight we had left, and if we could make it back to the carpark before dark.

But being already in the middle of nowhere surrounded by forest and lake, we decided we shouldn’t leave the place without finishing what we started off. And I am very glad I have a travel partner who wouldn’t quit on me. She was alright with not seeing Earland Falls, but knowing me well enough (that I wanted to carry on), she pressed on with me. So thanks girl!

We wasted no time to dilly-dally, and scurried through the forest gingerly on uneven route underfoot!

I usually espied waterfalls from a great distance. But, this time, the 174 metres Earland waterfall was the closest I had gotten to a waterfall! It was so majestic! It was literally right in front of us. We could feel the mist! We could totally go in for a swim beneath the falls and feel its wrath as the waters spattered!

The crystal clear cold waters was just so tempting for us to soak ourselves in after a long and hard’s trek. We left Earland Falls, at about 3.40 pm, and made it back before dark! We were totally exhausted after that! Haha! 😀 But it was extremely worth it! I was so glad we did not give a miss to Earland Falls. In hindsight, it was definitely worth the extra distance trekking.


 

TIPS?!

Alternative Trekking Routes (important read)

When planning for this track, I was pretty ambitious. Because I did not want to do an overnight trek, but still would like to cover key sights, I had this personal route initially mapped out as shown below.

The Divide –> Routeburn Track (first bypass Key Summit Lookout Trail) –> Lake Howden –> Earland Falls Lake Howden –> Key Summit Lookout Trail –> Routeburn Track –> The Divide

However, when we arrived at the junction to make a decision to bypass the Key Summit and head to Lake Howden and Earland Falls first, we decided it was best to go to the Summit first instead (just in case we were strapped for time, and also considering weather changes).

And were we so glad we made this decision to go to the Summit first. Firstly, the view at the Summit was with obvious reasons exquisite! I am not saying Lake Howden and Earland Falls are not at all worth the trip- they are. But in all honestly, I will pick the view at the Summit any day over the rest.

However, if you are confident that time is not of the essence, then I guess which route you take doesn’t really matter?

If you are not looking at such a long trekking experience, then forget about Lake Howden and the Earland Falls. Just take a journey up the Summit. It would be a view worth it! This route would take about 4 hours return trip.

The Divide –> Routeburn Track –> Key Summit Lookout Trail –> Routeburn Track –> The Divide

Yes, I know the signage stated 3 hours return trip, but to be honest guys, of all our walks in New Zealand, never had we actually completed our treks (excluding photography and respites) based on the timings on the board. Never. So a tip is to add 1 – 1.5 hours to your planning?

Start Early!

We woke up at 4.30 at the crack of dawn. We must be crazy you say, but trust me it will be all worth it when you are 919 metres above sea level. Also, if you are getting on the long trekking route to visit Earland Falls, you would need those extra time of daylight!

Lunch + Swim wear

Because it was an entire day’s out in the forest, packed lunch of simple sandwich, cookies and fruits are much needed! Not to mention, your energy drink! You will need it!

We did not have our swim gear with us, so we did not have a go in the waterfalls. We see many trekkers very much prepared, and after a long trek, they all went in for a nice cool off in the waters! So if you wish to, bring your swim wears!

Safety first

I reckon going on any walks in New Zealand would be safer during Summer. The Great Walks season is during end October to end April. For detailed information about the Routeburn Track walk do take time to look at the brochure.

 

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

So last year I partnered with GPSMyCity to convert my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” on the TravelWhenever site, to a GPSMyCity travel article app that can be viewed offline! For details on that, click here.

This year, GPSMyCity announced plans to introduce subscription to their travel article apps. The subscription option is now available on iTunes, with Google Play due to follow suit shortly (due to technical reasons). Effectively, GPSMyCity app users can now purchase annual subscription at US$12.99/year with full access to all travel articles for 900+ cities worldwide OR at US$18.99/year with full access to all our walking tours + travel articles covering 1,000+ cities.

I have 10 free one-year subscriptions (worth US$18.99 each) to be given away. To enter this international giveaway, there’s only one rule: Simply place a comment on this article you are reading now regarding your planned/planning travel destinations for 2018!

It would be nice if you could follow me on Instagram: @travelwhenever as well! 😀

I am most interested to know where avid travel lovers are heading this year, ya?! The giveaway entry period will last for 2 weeks from the date that this article is published.

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world to see and give back! Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there? + TIPS?! (MUST READ) 

Best season to visit? 

Getting around Nami Island? 

What you might see/experience (during early winter)? 

TIPS?! 

Address:

1 Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Operating Hours:

07 30 – 21 45
Entrance/Ferry Fee:

W$ 8000/pax (one round trip)

Recommended length of visit:

Half day – 1 full day

Despite the wretched cold that caused me to have multiple brain freezes, numb fingers and toes, I might have left my warm heart turned frozen in Korea. Ah Korea oh Korea, what have you done to me? Many things apparently. I experienced so much in just 10 days. From the Korean culture, to the food and the sights, it was really a trip I won’t forget. To add on to that, it was my first time experiencing snowfall! It was a cold winter morning; we were on our merry way to church! So HALLELUJAH to that.

And I decided that of all the sights I have had the bliss to experience during my virgin trip to Korea with my Mama Dearest, I would like to start with Nami Island! The island is so huge (in my eyes) that there was really so much to see and be in complete awe about. Everywhere you turn, the peripheral view is just so breathtaking!

Nami Island is a half moon-shaped isle formed as a result of the inundated rising water from the North Han River due to the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam in 1944. In 2006, Nami Island declared its cultural independence and was called Naminara Republic. This island has its own national flag, an anthem, currency, passport and even certificate of citizenship. Like what what? Interesting huh…?

So if you were thinking if you need to bring your passport and have a different currency (other than the Korean Won) when on the island for transaction, the answer is no. You just need a ‘visa’ to enter Naminara Republic! So how do we get a ‘visa’ to Nami Island? Read ‘How to get there?’.

How to get there? + TIPS?! (MUST READ)

Nami Island is 63 km from Seoul in the North-Eastern direction towards Chuncheon. The easiest mode of transportation to the island is by the subway, then a quick bus/taxi ride and lastly a ferry ride. No cars are allowed on the island, so if you decide to drive, you would have to park your vehicle at the Namiseom Dock Parking Lot near the jetty and subsequently board the ferry. I obviously took public transportation. So here’s how it went:

1. From Seoul, take the subway to Gapyeong station (~1 hr 30 mins – 1 hr 50 mins train ride).

2. Upon alighting, take the exit on the right. You would see the Tourist Information centre outside of the subway station. Approach the staff to confirm the timing for the Gapyeong City Tour Bus that is heading to Nami Island. The bus stop is just in front of the Tourist Information centre. If you do not want to take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, then a value for money alternative would be taking a taxi.

Easy ways to get to Nami Island Ferry Terminal (Gapyeong Wharf) from Gapyeong station

Gapyeong City Tour Bus

W$6000/pax (payment to driver; CASH)
Taxi

~ W$4000 (taximeter; so the price may vary)

A maximum of 4 passengers

TIPS?! (MUST READ!)

To take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus OR Taxi?

The reason why the Gapyeong City Tour Bus is a little pricey as compared to the taxi is because this is a hop on and off tour bus! A one-time payment (in cash) to the driver would allow you to go to places of interest near the vicinity for that one day of purchase.

Popular places like the Petite France and Morning Calm Arboretum (a.k.a Garden of Morning Calm) are all accessible via this tour bus. It is super convenient, especially if you would like to cover other places and not just focus on Nami Island for the day.

So if you would like to visit Petite France and Morning Calm Arboretum, together with Nami Island, then I suggest you plan your time very accurately to ensure you have sufficient time spend at each attraction. See the tour bus timetable schedule (below) to aid you.

GRAB A HARDCOPY OF TOUR BUS BROCHURE FROM THE TOURIST INFORMATION COUNTER AS WELL! This will give you all the needed important information; like the bus schedule timings.

HOWEVER… …

If you are going to spend the entire day at Nami Island, or are just interested in Nami Island and not the other attractions, then the taxi is imperatively a better value alternative.

3. The Gapyeong City Tour Bus from Gapyeong station would take an approximately 10 minutes to Nami Island bus stop, where you would have to head towards the ferry terminal (Gapyeong Wharf) (less than 100 m) to purchase your ‘visa’/ferry ticket/entrance ticket at W$ 8000/pax.

4. The ferry ride from Gapyeong Wharf is about 5 minutes to Nami Island. And violà, YOU HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED ON NAMI ISLAND where you can have some awesome exploration!

Operating Hours (Ferry Schedule)

07 30 – 09 00

30 minute intervals
09 00 – 18 00

10 – 20 minute intervals

18 00 – 21 40

30 minute intervals

Best season to visit?

Now this question is very subjective. It really depends on what you would like to experience. Is it the lush green full grown trees that sprawl the island or the red-orange crisp of autumn leaves or even the pristine rows of bare trees rooted to the ground of white snow and beyond that fancies you?

In hindsight, I would say visit Nami Island in its full blown AUTUMN season.

I mean, Nami Island in its transitioning from autumn to winter, or even in full blown winter won’t be half bad at all. But I reckoned the fall colours that would hang off the rows of trees would be most breathtaking!

Of course, if you are into the whole winter wonderland and snowfall showers, then winter season would just be perfect for you. I had my fair share of cold in Korea that I can endure and I have concluded that the cold isn’t what I need if I wanted to really immerse into the environment. When I was on Nami Island, I was basically trying to keeping warm 80% of the time by either chilling out in cafes with hot lattes or in souvenir shops!

So yeah, thinking back, if given a chance to go to Nami Island again, I would opt for an autumn option! 😀

Getting around Nami Island?

1. Walking

My Dad once said, on a fine night in Bangkok, whilst we were along the streets, ‘Walking is the best way to explore and experience a new place. You get to see a lot more.’ And I agree with him completely. If my legs can take me places forever, and never feeling the ache and fatigue, I would walk to explore new places (provided time permits of course). There are just so many sights to see and snap photo of at your own pace! You just have to stroll! It can be very therapeutic.

2. Biking

Just like most parks, there would be an option for people who wants to move around on 2 wheels! The Bike Center is located in the middle of the island, near UNICEF Hall.

Type of Bike

Cost
One-person

W$ 4000 (30 minutes)

W$ 7000 (1 hour)

Tandem

W$ 8000 (30 minutes)

W$ 14000 (1 hour)

Quadruplet

W$ 15000 (30 minutes)

Electronic bicycle

W$ 10000 (30 minutes)

W$ 18000 (1 hour)

There are also other means of getting around the island: the UNICEF Train Ride, the Electronic car tour and via the Motor boat tour. For more details, click here.

What you might experience (during early winter)?

I was there in early December and it was in transition from autumn to winter. It wasn’t in full blown winter, but it already had aspects of winter sprouting. For instance, the cold was unbearable (for me), at -9 oC. The pavements and walkways were cover in ice and snow, some more slippery than others. Visitors had this huge pile of snow to play with and snow sculptures were seen all around.

However, the trees weren’t all bare. Some trees still insist on holding on tight to the orange autumn leaves or even its green ones too. A variety of colours from a tinge of red-orange and green in a sea of white icy ground really compliments each other; making the scene extra magical.

Nami Wharf

So when you have alighted at the wharf on Nami Island, you would be greeted by this ice fountain sculpture, which was an amazing sight if you have never visited Nami Island. Excited tourist would be hogging the vicinity to take a snap or two!

As we ventured further, we saw rows of trees to the right and left side. It was a pretty sight. On a normal summer’s day, we would probably continue to walk towards the east side of the island. But because it was freezing, so we decided to find a café to warm up. Based, on the map, we decide to walk towards the nearest café near the wharf; near The Song Museum, and landed ourselves in the Swing Café for the next few hours. Haha!

Swing Café

The view along Swing café was pretty amazing. Facing the river, the tranquil semi-frozen water and the hill opposite were just in perfect cosmos. Taking a stroll along the river could just be the perfect activity to do to find peace! The stretch just behind the café was a perfect autumn-winter scene. It was totally breath-taking. Speechless.

And because it was cold enough, you would find ice snowman sculptures everywhere! Just like this mini one; chilling on the bench! So adorable, don’t you think so? Haha! 😀

Central Korean Pine Tree Lane/Baekpungmilwon Maple Garden

We took a stroll down this lane and saw many people playing in a huge snow pile at the garden next to it! It was such a fun scene. Kids were having a blast, whilst mothers were busy trying to ensure their little ones were safe. Even adults were up on the snow pile!

Despite many people walking about, somehow the tree lane area seem pretty much peaceful. The evening sunset did set the mood for the perfect walk, with amazing views. What is there to really ask for, seriously? It was perfect.

The Song Garden

Along the Pine Tree Lane, was an enclosure where ostriches were kept. Bunnies were also roaming the area. It was so cute. The UNICEF Train track was just in front of the ostrich enclosure. It was definitely a nice picture worthy moment. Haha!

First Kiss Glass Sequoia Bridge/Eco Farm Yeonryeonji Pond

The pond was in its semi-frozen to frozen state. And because the bridges were pretty much covered with ice, we decided it wasn’t worth for us to risk slipping and decided to move on a little further to cover more ground as it was getting dark soon.

UNICEF Hall/Artshop Snowman May Café

Alas, we ended our exploration on Nami Island here. It was freezing, the sun was setting, and we had a long journey back to the city.

TIPS?!

(a) Squeezing other attractions (e.g. Petite France & Garden of Morning Calm) in 1 day?

Since the other attractions are conveniently reachable by the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, most online articles or people would recommend you to include Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm along with Nami Island.

Well, in hindsight, I say the best combination to work with and get maximum relaxation and exploration would be to visit Nami Island on its own (a half day to a full day; whichever you are comfortable with). And visit Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm together on a separate day. Why?

Though Nami Island is not a very big island, it really has so many picturesque sights that would leave you in deep awe. There would be many moments you cannot resist to stand at a particular spot longer than expected. A nice slow-paced stroll pass the trees and chilling at the café or restaurant could easily pass the time and making it an entire day’s visit! Trust me!

(b) Head to the ‘OTHER’ side of the Island

The cold really did hit us back hard, and we spend more time in the café than we would like to. Alas, we did miss a few key highlights that one should not miss when on Nami Island, but hey that was fine. The most important thing was that we enjoyed ourselves on the island at a comfortable pace.

Some key highlights I do hope to see given a second chance would be:

(i) Ginkgo Tree Lane

(ii) Metasequoia Lane

Most of the famous sights are on the right side of the island (based on the brochure map). So if you are pressed for time, then you might want to skip what is in between and dive straight to the other side of the island! 🙂

(c) Go on a Weekday and Go in the Morning

It would usually be more crowded on the weekends, so if possible try to head over to Nami Island on a weekday! Unless you do not mind the crowd getting into your pictures when you are at Metasequoia Lane than I guess any time and any day wouldn’t matter at all. Haha! 😀

(d) Staying a night on Nami Island

There are accommodations available on the island if you would like to spend a night. The boutique hotel offers room types with beds or Korean-style heated floors (ondol). There are also bungalows and cottages suitable for couple, family or group stays. Though I have not stayed on the island before, I reckon this would be a memorable experience. You could probably enjoy the serene vicinity at night, as you stargaze? Isn’t that perfect? Haha! I would like to think so! 😀

Hope this prods you to capture some beauty around you! ‘Cause the world is really perfect when you have a kind heart willing to see it!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there? 

En Route to Milford Sound via Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes & Homer Tunnel 

Milford Sound 

TIPS? 

And New Zealand… … Probably the place where I might have left a little part of me. Surrounded only by beauty, serenity and hope seeping through the snowcapped mountains, valleys and ridges, I have no qualms that any sombre mood would definitely be uplifted, for sure.

Well… … at least I know mine had. Looking back at the photos taken there, it does bring back the memories that had impinged on me when I was in New Zealand, South Island for close to a month.

 

How to get there?

It was a one day trip from Te Anau township where we resided at to Milford Sound. A very laidback drive with many quick respites that included mini sightseeing and camera shots along the way! ‘Cause why rush, when the en route’s views were just as impeccable!

A straightforward driving route on the Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 will basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 50 mins? And that does not include respites. So I would say a 2 hour (ish) drive or longer?

 

En Route to Milford Sound via Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes & Homer Tunnel

So if you are within the Te Anau vicinity, then you had better take a driving trip (preferably self-drive), and embark on an expedition on the Te Anau-Milford Highway 94. You don’t even have to hike, walk, or claw your way through the mud, bushes or forest to have views that are as marvellous as what you would feast your eyes upon on this drive en route to Milford Sound.

And I know it does sound crazily exaggerated here, but I am not kidding. It was THE MOST amazing vista I had ever seen from a viewpoint of a driver/passenger IN THE CAR. The entire stretch up Highway 94 was just BAM amazing! It was ridiculous endless marvelling on my end; I just can’t… …!

1. Eglinton Valley

Now picture Eglinton Valley as this gorgeous piece of open field of lustrous green patch sprawled across hectares, accompanied with the distant mountains stretched out into the far off land as backdrop. That was imperatively a scene not to forget! And with the endless quiet highway, anywhere was a good spot to park by the side of the road and gawked at the wonders of Mother Nature.

IMG_1897

Since we set off in the late morning, the strong afternoon sunlight beamed so generously on everything that the entire landscape just glistened in front of us. It was picture perfect.

Along the way, we paused to immerse in a stream with close to turquoise clear waters flowing with benign. So peaceful and calm, the icy cold waters streamed down without a care in the world. It was just beautiful.

2. Mirror Lakes

Don’t be fooled by the ‘Lakes’ in the naming of this. It is not really a huge patch of lake or any sort. It is more of a pond? Okay, maybe slightly larger than a pond. It is not hard to miss this pit stop as there would be cars parked along the side of the road, and a decent signage too!

A 2 minutes or less mini boardwalk would take you down to the viewing deck where you would be greeted by the still waters and mountains. And if you are lucky maybe a cute ducky or 2?!

You don’t have to spend too much time at Mirror Lakes, ‘cause the real action and mind-blowing views comes soon after.

3. Homer Tunnel

Anyone heading to Milford Sound has to go through Homer Tunnel. Since the tunnel can only fit in a stream of cars in a single file each time (each way), hence there would be a bit of a wait time if cars from the other side of the tunnel would be making their way over.

Which was no biggie at all, considering the majestic view in the vicinity just compensated for it all! Families actually parked their mini vans, and have lunch tables all set up just next to the entrance/exit of Homer Tunnel; facing the glacier. Having lunch without an impeding view of the glacier? HELLO, YES PLEASE, ANYTIME! 😀

Seeing that we had quite a bit of a wait time, we decided not to join in the car queue, but parked alongside the families having lunch! We had some time to immerse in the beauty of the mountains engulfing from the sides with trickling of waters down the ridges like mini waterfalls. Oh they were all so beautiful as the sparkle under the afternoon sunlight, like little streams of confetti!

The white glistening glacier was probably the highlight for everyone waiting at the entrance of Homer Tunnel. It was so up-close and personally, it was unbelievable that it was just there; so within your reach! It was crazy! And of course, we had to snap a hell load of photos! We did notice some people exploring deeper into the glacier area, but because we were tight on time, we decided to have that a miss.

 

Milford Sound

After an arduous but all so satisfactory and self-fulfilling drive from Te Anau township, we had finally arrived at Milford Sound! By then, taking into account all of our respites and photo-snapping, it was already late afternoon, and the sun was soon to set.

We had a quick lunch/tea at the Blue Duck Café. Cannot really recall exactly what I ordered, but probably a standard set of coffee and meat pastry puff? Or did I bring along my own sandwich? Okay, I think probably I did brought my own sandwich and bought a coffee from the café. 😀

Then the exploring begun! We embarked on the Milford Foreshore Walk, which was a pretty easy grade boardwalk with some gravels and slight forested area. So peaceful and serene considering it was already late afternoon, there was practically close to no one around anymore.

Just the sound of the cool crisp howling of the sea breeze and the occasional honks coming from the Milford Sound Cruise Tours. They were all probably already done with their magical cruise day tour around Milford Sound vicinity, and to think, we only just begun! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Bring a packed lunch/snack

Since the journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound can be a little long, it would be always nice to have a snack of some sort for when you decide to rest. And a great spot to fuel up and get those legs stretching and blood circulating would be near the entrance of Homer Tunnel! With the close-up view of the glacier being so perfectly in place and in a cosmos with the surroundings, having lunch there would make any nature lover jelly!

(b) Start journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound EARLY

Now I am not saying bright and early like 6 or 7 am even, but I would say a reasonable time between 9 and 10 am (ish) is a good period to set off. This will imperatively give you plenty of time to snap pictures of Eglinton Valley and the river streams, the Mirror Lakes, and definitely not forgetting, having able to explore the glacier just at the entrance of Homer Tunnel!

(c) Drive-Thru Homer Tunnel with CARE

Inside Homer Tunnel is pitch dark with NO side lights or beacon of any sorts within the tunnel. It is only towards the other side where there would be shafts of sunlight peering through and beacons to direct you along, other than that, your headlights, and of course, the headlights coming from other cars in front and behind you are all you have.

Entering the tunnel for the first time is like taking a ride on Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain. I mean, it was not any fast like a roller coaster in that sense, but we were entering a tunnel, which is drilled through a mountain so I guess it was kinda the same? Haha…!

Since, it was pitch black, manoeuvring slowly through the tunnel with care is fundamental. Just go slow, and follow the car in front!

(d) Staying over at Milford Sound?

To be honest, I don’t think there is a need to stay over at Milford Sound. Yes, the landscape is spectacularly immaculate and out of this world, but if you not coming to Milford Sound from a Fiordland’s multi-day trek or had been on the road for a while, then I reckoned that there is really no need to spend a night at Milford Sound.

There is really nothing else you could do there other than the 20 minutes Milford Foreshore Walk. Not to mention, in the middle of nowhere, there are no shops or restaurants to dine. Heading back to humble Te Anau township with so many amazing food options and necessities available would be a better option. The accommodation at Te Anau is also much reasonable.

Besides, remember the 2 hour (ish) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound being so wickedly awesome, well… … you get to experience it for the second time in 1 day! WHY NOT?!

However, if you feel you might be too exhausted from the drive, and do feel like spending more time at Milford Sound, then I recommend ONE night. Just one night would be more than enough. 🙂

Click for more details on Milford Sound accommodation.

Milford Sound could be experienced differently giving you angular perspectives of it. Whether you are

(i) going on a Milford Sound cruise tour (day/overnight), or

(ii) embarking on one of Fiordland’s multi-day treks, or

(iii) simply a self-drive from Te Anau township

Milford Sound will still always be an amazing place in the South Island of New Zealand. I will not forget how in awed I was in the car on the way to Milford Sound. The route was just as sweet amazing as the finishing line.

Picture does speak a thousand words, but trust me when I say, you need to be there to really believe it. Believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world.

So get out there, and explore! Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

Route:

Parking Lot –> Elevated Track –> Summit –> And Back

Total Distance:

16 km (9.9 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7 – 9 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Seasonal Restrictions:

Track closed for lambing between 1st October and 10th November each year.

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

The Wanaka region is still by far the most memorable part of my New Zealand trip. Weather in New Zealand can get pretty precarious; with moments of sunshine, and then moments of melancholy!

In hindsight, we were pretty much blessed during our visit to the Wanaka region with perfect skies, not too chilly temperature, and best of all, refreshingly cool breeze that fills every volume corner of our lungs as we inhaled in the best of nature!

 

How to get there?

The start of the Roys Peak Track is just a quick and simple approximately 5 km drive North West from Wanaka Township! Drive on Ardmore Street, which will lead you on Wanaka- Mount Aspiring Road.

Look out for the yellow signage (which is not as prominent) ‘Roys Peak Track’ on the right (if you are coming from Wanaka Township, that is). The car parking area is just there at the base of the peak!

 

Highlights and Views

There is a green donation box near the entrance of the Roys Peak Track. The donation is more for maintenance and upgrade of the walking track. It is not compulsory and you do not have to be compelled to donate if you do not want to.

The first section of the Roys Peak Track crosses private land, hence, it is sage to keep on the paved track, and respect landowner’s property! Since there would be approximately a month’s long of lambing between October and November, obviously we could get to see some, well… … many… … sheep and lambs up close and personal all throughout the track up!

And of course, you have to accept the animals in all their glory right?

By that, I meant the woolly fur balls’ poops and their glorious smell that accompanies with! Yup, poopies all over the track; especially the initial section! Here. There. EVERYWHERE! 😀 Glorious smell!

The view just keeps getting more amazing as you ascend. I couldn’t help but always take a glance back as I climbed up a few steps further!

First it was just the hills, the thin strip of Wanaka Township, and the partial view of Lake Wanaka, then slowly, the lake view just extents wider, and the town strip gets larger! Soon we could see the sprawling Wanaka Township on the right and the cerulean Lake Wanaka on the left- all within our peripheral vision; unimpeded!

The distant mountains and beyond were now visible as well! Partially shrouded by the clouds, some mountains were snow-capped. Hence, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment the mountains were less covered by the clouds to capture a shot or two or three!

I do know that the view is going to be even more awe-inspiring up at the summit of Roys Peak, but I just couldn’t help myself! I had to pause the trudge up (at intervals), snapped pictures and immersed in it all! It was just too beautiful, it was impeccable! Maybe that’s why when people say that they take a certain time to complete a trek; I probably take longer than what was mentioned! 🙂

Along the journey up Roys Peak Track, you will see an up sloping field of alpine tussocks, and from far it looks like fur balls of hair that sways so gently and in sync with the wind. The tussocks just remind me of the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, where the colourful vibrant trees look like cotton candy and balls of hair!

There is a long narrow strip for respite just before you continue on the climb to the summit. You could stop here for a snack/lunch break and if you are really not up for it, you could slowly make your descend. Most people would stop here and have photos taken of them on the narrow strip with the blue hues of sky, lake and mountains as backdrop! Very Instagram-worthy! ;P

This is a nice spot to be ensorcelled by the beauty of the landscape in front of you. And by this time, you would be imperatively certain that the arduous trudge up earlier was definitely all worth it; every drop of sweat!

Comparing the long elevated way up from the base, to the climb from the respite area to the summit, the latter is really not that long a journey. You have reached the Roys Peak summit when you see the tall radio antenna tower!

So knowing this now, if you see it afar whilst climbing, maybe you would want to use this as your beacon of hope to spur you on? Haha!

I cannot explain how much satisfaction I had gain from conquering the Roys Peak Track. The amount of effort I vested in to get a view as gawkingly breath-taking as this was just very deserving in my opinion.

You know there are some treks where you don’t need to put much effort and still get awesome views? And there are some which make you cringe and grit your teeth, but yet you still press on, and are rewarded with the views to die for?

Well, though sometimes we all need treks which requires less effort in exchange for good view; ‘cause you know, we are all not made of steel; and we cannot always and every day be conquering challenging treks right?

But, in my opinion, it is good and healthy to challenge yourself every now and then to a trek that makes you work your ass for something deserving. I feel a greater sense of achievement as compared to a simpler and easier trek! Don’t you think so? 🙂

‘Cause the best memories will be deeply etched when you actually put an effort and work for it rather than just getting it on a silver platter! Though, I have to say, sometimes silver platters would be nice too! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Just keep swimming moving… … Just keep swimming moving… …

For someone who hasn’t done the Roys Peak Track before, you couldn’t really pinpoint where the final destination (a.k.a summit) really is. All you see is just a relentless elevated winding track to the heavens; which means against gravity! And well… … we all know, gravity ain’t exactly the best-est of friend sometimes right?

Definitely not the most benign track to be on, but you really need to rivet on the goal here; and that’s to reach the summit, because you presage that the view up there is going to be so swooning, and it’s just a pity if you were to miss it! Well… … at least that’s what I tell myself whilst on this track!

So don’t just stop at the narrow strip for respite! Have a break and continue to the summit! It’s really not that far! Honest!

(b) Start the trek EARLY

If you are someone who loves pausing to snap photos, or need multiple breaks to catch your breath (because, this is a massive elevated track), then you really need to start early. Take it from someone who had done this trek in the morning, and finished it close to evening.

(c) Sunscreen is a MUST; alongside windproof outer coat

Roys Peak Track gave me my first sunburn on my lower arms in over a decade! Usually I would use sunscreen and at most I would just tan up, but this time there was massive skin peeling. Why? ‘Cause I was lazy, that’s why.  And overly complacent! It was bad enough for me to get an aloe vera after sun lotion to soothe the burn.

This is an exposed track, with no trees to shelter you like most forest track. So do not be lazy like I was, and slap on sunscreen!

Windproof coat is much needed just in case the weather changes. You do not want to be freezing your ass at 1578 m above sea level, do you? Haha!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money!

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Forest Walk –> Valley –> Glacier viewpoint–> And Back

Total Distance:

5.4 km (3.36 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 2 hours

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

What you might experience?

Fox Glacier Valley Walk OR Franz Josef Glacier Walk?

TIPS? Going on Douglas Walk & Peters Pool?

This trek wasn’t an impromptu one as it was for the Fox Glacier Valley walk; which I wrote about sometime in July this year. If you have not read that already, then here it is: Treks: Fox Glacier Valley Walk, Fox Glacier.

Just as Fox Glacier Valley walk is as easy, so is this Franz Josef Glacier walk- with minimal strain! I love valley walks as compared to forest walk because of the wider peripheral version of the landscapes around. Furthermore, you get the option to look up at the skies every once in awhile; which I love to do too!

 

How to get there?

Option 1: Drive

From Franz Josef Waiau township, head down South, and pass Franz Josef i-Site Visitor Information Centre. Cross the Waiho River bridge, and make a left turn onto Glacier Access Road. The signage for this is very obvious. A quick drive to the end of the road (start of the walk) would take probably 10 minutes at most?

Option 2: Walk/ Cycle

For those who would like to embark on this walk starting from Franz Josef Waiau township, there are tracks for you to walk or cycle to the end of the Glacier Access Road too.

That’s about 3.8 km (2.36 miles) and approximately 1 hour from the start of the Glacier Access Road to the end of the road (a.k.a. Glacier Carpark). However, if you are cycling, then the duration is reduced by half. The route is still the same as if you were driving there- you would also need to pass the Franz Josef i-Site Visitor Information Centre, and cross the Waiho River bridge.

 

What you might experience?

On a better day, from the parking lot, you could already get a major breath-taking partial peep at the majestic Franz Josef glacier!

This is quite a popular walk as it is fairly easy; great fun for the whole family. Plus, it was the weekend, so basically we were spending our morning literally in a playground; nature’s playground!

We started off with a short walk through the forest, with gentle streams flowing. The real awe-inspiring series of scenes started when the forest opened up to a wide angular view of the distant Franz Josef glacier and its moraines surrounding. It was imperatively rejuvenating. It was our first virgin trek through a valley, so it was a pretty amazing experience despite a melancholic morning!

Shaft of some sunlight were soon observed as we advanced closer towards the viewpoint at the end of the trek. Along the way, other than seeing moraines littered the ground, there were refreshing waterfalls that gushed from the cliff side. Quirky glacier formations were espied when closer to the viewpoint- with tints of grey, white and icy blue.

Things could get a wee bit challenging for the younger ones as the route gets a little steeper and less gripped underfoot due to the loose pebbles and rocks when closer to the viewpoint. So do be cautious!

There were throngs of people at the viewpoint. Some having late morning munchies, while majority were taking photos as mementos; including us! 😀

By right, the highlight of this walk had to be the view of the Franz Josef glacier right? This was the case back then. However, in retrospect, I feel the greatest memory to take away from this walk, and was fortunately caught on camera (though not as well focused), was the sighting of what it seemed to be a tahr? It’s a goat-like creature. I am really not certain about its official name.

If it was really a tahr, which is classified as a pest in New Zealand (read more about it here: Tahr; New Zealand’s pest?), I would still find this moment a treasure!

‘Cause, hey, it’s not during every trek or walk you get to see wild animals right? Though, I did encounter a close up session with a kea during my walk through the Fox Glacier Valley… … But that’s beside the point! Every wild animal spotted during a walk/trek is a memory worth treasuring, no? 😀

So it is always nice to keep your eyes peeled to the surroundings, you never know what treasure you might find!

 

Fox Glacier Valley Walk OR Franz Josef Glacier Walk?

Since I have been comparing these two walks, now the question is which one is worth a go at? Well here’s a checklist to ease us into the answer.

 

Fox Glacier Valley Walk Franz Josef Glacier Walk

(more) dramatic rivers/streams?

(more) dramatic waterfalls?

orange tainted rocks?

snow-capped mountains along the side cliffs?

views at viewpoint?

And the list can go on… …

Not to say Franz Josef Glacier Walk was horrible (it really wasn’t at all), but in comparison to Fox Glacier Valley Walk, I would definitely prefer the latter.

Maybe it was the gloomy weather, or maybe it was the thick fog that may have shrouded the snow-capped mountains that may be there (which I will never know, unless I return on this walk again on a much sunnier day), but in general, I felt the vista at Fox Glacier Valley Walk had much more character and personality.

So if it isn’t obvious enough, the answer is Fox Glacier Valley Walk!

But of course if you have time at hand, and you are at Franz Josef township, then it doesn’t hurt to just take 2 hours off to explore the area right? You may even see much more than I did during my time there!

 

TIPS? Going on Douglas Walk & Peters Pool?

1

Go For a Trek-athon

Embark on other walks/treks within the vicinity!

The best thing about this Franz Josef Glacier walk is its location! Just within the car park compound, there is another entrance that branches out to other simple walking/trekking options!

I recall it was the first day we arrived at Franz Josef township, and with a couple of hours of daylight left, we decided not to waste any time. We headed straight for a simple trek on the Douglas Walk and to Peters Pool to end off the day!

Since Franz Josef Glacier walk is only approximately 2 hours, you could continue on your trek-athon, if you please, and just pop by Peters Pool. On a clear day, the view by the little pond (Peters Pool) would give you unobstructed partial views of the massive Franz Josef glacier. I would definitely recommend this!

2

Morning Jog

Fancy a morning jog? Then take it to the glacier!

With route fairly easy, and just a 10 minutes drive from Franz Josef township, going on this jog is really doable! We saw a few couples doing this!

If we had more time, I would definitely suggest this! And MAYBE we would be going on this route a second time, and MAYBE the weather would be better, and MAYBE the landscape would have more personality then? And MAYBE Franz Josef Glacier walk MAY have more ticks on the checklist above?

Well… … Life always have a bucket load of MAYs, MAYBEs and IFs. 😀

3

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight (if any), slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

4

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

So remember to Travel Whenever, and have a good trek!

Dee

How to get there?

Place to stay: Lake Hawea Hotel

What you might experience?

I would say most roads on the South Island of New Zealand are just beyond words. The congenial surroundings includes long stretch of straight roads, with hectares of open grasslands, distant mountains, and occasional herds of cows and sheep. All these are in a great cosmos; all these are situated in a little region we call Middle Earth; where really, the magic of God’s creation happens.

 

How to get there?

We headed down from Fox Glacier Township towards the Wanaka region (approximately a 3 hours drive; nonstop), which will ultimately bypass the pristine Lake Hawea. So beautiful… …

And since we are passing Lake Hawea, why not have a respite at the Lake Hawea Hotel to soak in the cerulean crystal clear waters of Lake Hawea! A little pit stop before entering the main Wanaka Township! Sounds like the great plan! 😀

Taking a very straightforward cruise, drive on Haast Highway (a long drive of approximately 1.5 hours from Fox Glacier Township), towards Haast Township. Continue along Haast Pass-Makarora Road, and onto Makarora-Lake Hawea Road. Then make a left onto the filter lane on Capell Avenue. And voilà, Lake Hawea Hotel is on the right! From Haast Township to Lake Hawea Hotel, it is an approximately another 1.5 hours more.

If you continue on Makarora-Lake Hawea Road, you would be driving towards Albert Town, which will soon lead you to main Wanaka Township.

 

Place to stay: Lake Hawea Hotel

Because we will not be passing Lake Hawea again, we wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to just be sluggish for a day or two by the Lake, doing absolutely nothing. And when I mean nothing, I really do mean snapping photos of course. Haha! 😀

TIP?

Get some groceries done prior to Lake Hawea!

There’s really nothing much to buy at Lake Hawea, though there’s a humble grocery store within the Hawea community. Cafés and restaurants are also available as well. Heard Sailz Restaurant and Bar is worth a stop by, though we did not try that- we survived mostly on sandwiches, cookies and whatnot because we wanted to leave the binge-eating for when we enter Wanaka Township!

‘Cause you save some here, you indulge some there, right? 😀 Haha!

The best thing about Lake Hawea Hotel is that is situated close to the highway heading to main Wanaka Township; which allows for extreme easy access. We could practically see the highway from our balcony!

With a clean spacious room layout, clear glass slider door that allows maximum natural sun rays to shine in, huge counter to dump all our groceries, a simple armchair (which J is always fascinated about) and, of course… the view of the star attraction; Lake Hawea- just within our peripheral version, this respite is just heaven on Earth!

Just slide open the door, and the view of the Lake is there. Perfecto!

At SGD$86.25/night per room, I would say this hotel is reasonably priced. Though based on individual’s budget, preference, and travel style, this might be very much otherwise.

J and I are not into the super high-end accommodation, though who wouldn’t want it right? While (J always calls it) Princess Living, is not the deciding factor here, a decently well maintained, clean ambience is a MUST for us.

All I can say is that we each have found the travel partner to last. Having travelled together for so long now, we know each other’s standards; for cleanliness (me having the lowest of low threshold for it, which has now subtly rubbed off some onto J), budget, location, etc.

And yes, to some, this may already be regarded as Princess Living, but it’s all about the travel style. What you splurge, and what you stinge on, is really on what you have higher regard for. And when we splurge on something, we always make up for it in other areas. Because, obviously we are not made of money too. Haha! 😀

So yeah, Lake Hawea Hotel was definitely to our satisfaction!

 

What you might experience?

En Route To The Wanaka Region From Fox Glacier Township

The magic happens along the stretch of Makarora-Lake Hawea Road. Well, excellent weather too does enhance the magic!

And how do you know the magic has happened?

IMG_0822

You cannot ever miss it! It’s just too eye-catching because the entire vista is awash with the natural beauty of Lake Wanaka, along with the clear mountain hills as backdrop. Coming from Fox Glacier Township, you would first reach the tip North of Lake Wanaka on the right. And even then, it is already insanely swooning! Not being melodramatic at all.

I recall us having a conversation similar to this… …

‘OH MY GOSH! LOOK!’

‘Shall we stop?’

‘I think there more lookouts ahead, we can drive further.’

‘OH MY, IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!’

‘Take out the camera!’

‘Oh no, it’s at the back!’

‘Damn it. HANDPHONE!’

We did stop awhile to snap photos once we found an empty space for vehicles to safely park by the highway. And it was just even more gorgeous stepping out of the car, and viewing it through the lens. The natural sunlight was insanely good; perfect lighting, perfect landscape! At that moment, it was really the happiest day of our lives. Literally!

We noticed that road works were happening slightly up ahead to clear rock falls, and soon, cars were in tandem on the highway. After capturing the pictures I wanted, we joined in the queue, and admired the view from inside the car. Aaaa… … That’s the life…

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea is definitely the younger sister in this Wanaka region, as compared to Lake Wanaka. Wanting a more private time? Lake Hawea is the place to be. Away from the main Wanaka Town, this pristine Lake gives you solace within nature.

Picture does speak a thousand words, but trust me when I say, you need to be there to really believe it. Believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world.

So get out there, and explore! Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Car park –> Jetty Lookout –> View of Views Lookout –> Reflection Island Lookout –> Car park (Circuit Jaunt)
Total Distance:

4.4 km (2.7 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 1.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots and respites when necessary)
Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 (at that point of time)

How to get there?

Hiking Highlights and Views

TIPS? And overall experience?

 

How to get there?

A mere 5 minutes drive or so from Fox Glacier Township on Cook Flat Road, and turning right onto Lake Matheson Road will lead you straight to the parking space.

The Matheson Café is located within the vicinity if you want to settle breakfast before the walk. It opens at around 8 am. The prominent signage for this circuit jaunt near the café  marks the start of your odyssey!

Click here for more information about Lake Matheson Café


 

Hiking Highlights and Views

I was pretty much excited for this trek as there are many enrapturing images on Google that captured rad reflection of the mountains on the motionlessly tranquil Lake Matheson. The cerulean blue, alongside the strip of forest green trees just make the entire picture all in a cosmos.

Alas, that wasn’t the view for us to take home that day.

It was quite a cloudy morning to began with. With only a few minutes of intense shaft of sunlight at irregular intervals, those were my only precious opportunities to grasp when taking photos of the landscape.

Through the mini forest

From the starting point, we had to walk pass a bridge over the tannin stream and boulders. It was a much pleasant sight to take in on a morning walk. Calming and breezy, this was a moment that depicted life’s simple pleasures.

I like to take regular glances to the back when I walk. There were many times, when I got awestricken by the vista behind me; and was always glad I did not miss it. With weather that was adept at changing fast and relentless at times, it was quite possible to miss a good view with two snaps of the fingers!

Hence, I was happy to have caught the distant snow capped mountains amidst the fluffy melancholy clouds.

Into the forest we went, the road, though gravelled, was well paved. Kids of all ages could do this walk, easy.

Little information boards about the plant species were found along the way. Nice bite sized facts, made the walk intriguing. It’s really great to learn new things, especially if you are a botany lover!

Reflection Island Lookout

Because it was a circuit jaunt, going either direction would still lead you out the same way. Hence, we decided to take the way which would lead us straight to the Reflection Island Lookout first; and of course, fast- which at that time, we thought would give us the best view.

I reckoned it was the timing we went, the weather, and maybe other variables, the view was… … How should I put it? Hhhmmm… … Not as satisfying? I mean, it was nice, but not as nice as I thought it would be. (Google did set high standards for it, you know.)

It was quite a letdown for us, as we had expected the whole dandy experience. But, nevertheless, we made do with what was presented to us, learnt from it, and made the best out of it! I mean, some pictures were still really cool; having the whole lugubrious vibe and all.

This included the out- of- nowhere appointment of a fury, curled- looking fern to be the ‘face’ of my hair (courtesy of J of course). So yup, now my hair is like a walking mascot for the Ponga tree fern (or until it grows longer, and out of it)! Hhhmmm… Haha! 😀

Endless road

We decided to take a leisure stroll down the Lake Matheson Road. Cow gazing, car watching, breeze inhaling, whatever it was… …It was just imperatively nerve-calming.

The straight endless road with tranquil vista on the sides and ahead, is something we don’t get much of back home. So of course we had to spend time immersing in it all!

 

TIPS? And overall experience?

1. Best views at DAWN and DUSK!

Before we embarked on this Lake Matheson Circuit walk, we did know about the time period to get best views- at Dawn or Dusk. However, we were too shack to get our asses up early in the morning, so that was probably our corollary for being lazy bums. 🙁

Sometimes, a bit of sacrifice is really much needed in exchange for views that amazing- as seen on Google.

So hey, you win some, you lose some right? Win some hours of sleep, lose some nice photos?!

It’s all a learning experience! 😀

2. Breakfast before walk; YES please!

We did not have a meal at Lake Matheson Café, though we did pop by to have a look see at their menu board. The café does provide a peaceful vibe setting with clear distant snow capped mountain views on a good day; that I have to give it to them.

But I would say if you really want to settle breakfast outside your motel, Fox Glacier Township has great delectable varieties! Just my humble opinion anyway. I have never tried the food at the café to judge much, but food in the town could be just as good, and at a slightly cheaper price too. So… yeah…!

I would say the Hobnail Café’s breakfast at the Fox Glacier Guiding doesn’t fall shot either? A hearty breakfast of massive baked potato with stuffing and an American breakfast plate with staples of bread, eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns to share with your friend would totally fuel you both for a great trek ahead! ‘Cause we all know… …

Sharing food = More varieties = More experience to try new food = Life’s perfect

Furthermore, the view from the glass window at Hobnail Café does paint a flawless view of the majestic snow capped mountains in the near distance! What’s not to love about it all?!

Food at the Cook Saddle Café & Saloon is amazeballs! I can’t say much about its breakfast though, but… …for lunch and dinner, the barbeque pork spare ribs with fries on the side is just finger licking awesome! (Out of topic, but just a little FYI here. Haha!)

3. Moment to relieve oneself? Fret NOT!

The public toilets just further down from the café near the car park are clean. Odourless and all, you can safely have a nice dump before or after your trek! No worries! Haha! 😀

Though we did not get great reflection views as ‘promised’ by Google, due to our laziness, or rather, mine slothfulness, I would totally do this again! Obviously at a different timing, probably near sunrise?

The walk is fairly trivial, so I don’t see why not try this once more and be enraptured by the beauty of the serene Lake Matheson with the distant backdrop of the mountains! I am sure it is going to be jaw- droppingly amazing; as ‘promised’ by Google!

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Valley –> Glacier –> And Back

Total Distance:

2.6 km (1.6 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 2 – 2.5 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

This was an impromptu trekking trip, and I was, and still very much am, very glad we did it! We had an extra full day at Fox Glacier (because there were some items on our itinerary we were not that much interested in anymore), and being in a very small town, there really wasn’t much we could do. So conferring with Google… … The journey through the valley to the glacier begun! Yay! 😀

I do not honestly know how and why I had totally missed this valley walk during my itinerary research, but this is just one of those walks that are pretty much less strenuous and you get views just as invigorating!

Less energy for greater returns? Say what now? An absolute MUST DO on the South Island of New Zealand!

 

How to get there?

The drive to the start of the Fox Glacier Valley Walk is a fairly easy one, and really straightforward! Just drive down South on Haast Highway from Fox Glacier Township, and immediately turn left before the Fox River bridge. This drive takes roughly 10 minutes.

The left turn will take you straight to a huge parking area, at the end of the road, where the landscape is already melodramatic enough! Surrounded by massive cliffs on each side, it is just so ethereal.

Imagine… … If the parking area welcomes you with such imprinting effect, even before you embark on your trek, what more when you are ON the trek? The view, then, would be imperatively even more wicked!


 

Highlights and Views

Since it was an impromptu trek, we arrived at the place in the afternoon. It wasn’t very crowded then, there were basically less than 10 cars present (including ours)? The weather conditions were to our favour, as indicated on the board at the start of the trek, so we were in great expectation for good views! So let’s spiel… …

The thing about valley walks is that it was something new to me at that time. Usually the treks I embarked on were climbing up hills in the forest, or clambering on the edge of a cliff (back in Tasmania). And typically we were pretty much surrounded by trees, bushes and scrubs half the time; only to have a rewarding view at the summit or at the end.

But valley walks were very much new fresh perspectives; and I LOVE it! Not that I don’t love the other treks I went on, but you get the gist.

WHY?

Valley walks are not convoluted. Out in the open, and not shrouded by the trees, the feeling of frivolousness as the sun rays galvanise everything on the open valley was just speechlessly amazing. The heaps of moraine that were left behind when the glacier retreated in the 60s, glistens under the light. It felt like diamond dusts were lightly smeared on the rocks, and if you would to take notice, they really do twinkle as you saunter towards the glacier end (final section of the track)!

You could see people ahead of you and behind. The glacier end is always in sight, so you could roughly gauge how far off were you. Views were not being impeded, and because it is a valley, due to the recession of the glacier, most gravel grounds were of minimal degree of steepness. It was inconceivable how easy the walk was!

The only time when the route got a little steep, and a tad more strength was required, was when we were getting closer to the glacier end. The gravels were loose underfoot, and with the steeper incline, it could get a little slippery. Good gripping shoes during such times were much appreciated.

I like the idea of how we are really minuscule in comparison to the hillsides encaging us; how massive Mother Nature is, and how the towering sides just energises me.

During the walk, we saw parents (fathers), carrying their precious on their backs as they gaited on. I would like to brood over the fact that these parents were incredibly awesome. If it was me, I would have fumbled, stumbled, and probably rolled down the steep gravel hill, causing damage everyone in my path! Haha!

And to see how stable the dads were, going up and coming back down with ease, just makes me want to applaud for their adept balancing and strength. Haha! 😀

We reached the glacier end viewpoint at about sunset. The close-to-evening breeze just calms your nerves and gives your lungs a refreshing renewal of air. And of course, catching our breaths aside, we took moments to just gawk at the glacier ice and moraine. Such an incredible sight it was!

IMG_0345

On the journey back to the parking area, we saw a bunch of children, their Mum and two other travellers huddled near. The kids were in awe by the Kea who was busy being fed by the travellers. The kids ended up feeding the Kea too, with food provided by the travellers. I don’t remember what they fed the Kea with. Judging from the picture I took, I reckon crackers?

And of course, I had to help the Kea take its selfie since it was looking right at me, right?! Haha! 😀

We also had the opportunity to take a good glance at the early 3/4 moon that rose just above the hillside. And it totally added as a nice backdrop ‘accessory’ in the picture, don’t you think so? 😀

Seeing so many things all packed in an afternoon, and considering it was an imprompt trip, I suppose this was such an eventful bonus day well spent!

 

TIPS?

1

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight, slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

2

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

Fox Glacier Valley Walk is one of the easiest walks for the fairly able- bodies. With dramatic vista right from the beginning, and being greeted by shimmering moraines along the track, you will definitely not return to your motel blasé.

This track, I can safely say with conviction, is a MUST-ADD into your itinerary planning!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

What is a Helihike?

Fox Glacier Guiding Tour Package?

What you might experience?

Will I do it again?

 

What is a Helihike?

Route:

Walking on ice paved by the guide.

Average Walk Time:

~ 3 hours on ice
Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 (suitable for children of 9 years and above)

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

From the portmanteau word, it involves a HELI-copter, and a HIKE. Hence, HELIHIKE! This guided glacier walk on ice takes you into a world of the ever changing glacier transformation with informative mini commentary by the guide!

 

Fox Glacier Guiding Tour Package?

The Fox Glacier Guiding is a company in the Fox Glacier region that provides trips up on the glacier. They have 5 tour options (including the Flying Fox Helihike), of which, not all options bring you up on the glacier.

Because we wanted to try something unique, we chose the Flying Fox Helihike! Not only would we be able to experience the brief moments of flying in a helicopter, we got to have a few hours up on the glacier exploring!

An imperative WIN-WIN! To new experiences- we cheers to that!

The essential summary of the tour package we chose:

Price

Adult: NZD $399 (inclusive of GST)Child: NZD $369 (inclusive of GST)

Duration

~ 4 hours (~ 3 hours on ice)(inclusive of safety introduction, 2 way helicopter flight, etc)
Departure Timings

08 50

11 50

14 50 (only during Summer; October to April)

Reporting Address

Fox Glacier Guiding Building
44 State Highway 6
Fox Glacier

Guide to Customer Ratio

1 : 11

Equipment Provided

a)      Waterproof Jackets

b)      Overtrousers

c)      Socks

d)     Leather Boots

e)      Crampons (given when on the glacier)

f)       Hiking poles (given when on the glacier)

What to wear?

3 – 4 layers of tops and track pants

What to bring?

a)      Sun protection (lotion, sunshades)

b)      Gloves and hat (to keep warm, if necessary)

c)      Water and snacks

d)     Camera

Miscellaneous

Ground transportation to the location for the helicopter flight is provided.

 

What you might experience?

1. Safety Prelude Presentation + Getting Into Appropriate Gear

Upon arrival at the reporting location in Fox Glacier Township, you would be instructed to get your waterproof jacket, if you needed one. And obviously I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to grab anything that could keep me warm up on the glacier.

I reckoned I was the only teeny tiny human in the tour group wrapped in 4 layers of upper body clothing even before going up on the glacier! And to count the waterproof jacket provided, I had 5 layers on me! Looking thick and puffy- it was quite an embarrassing sight! Oh well… 😀

Sounded like I was getting ready for a snow blizzard happening up on the glacier, but it was really because my body was just apt to fail on me, as always. I was adamant to enjoy myself during the trip, so I ain’t letting any cold stop me! Hence, if you are like me, just layer up!

A bus transported us from the Fox Glacier Guiding Building to an area where we would board the helicopter. But first, a mini presentation on safety and changing into proper foot gear (thick socks and boots)!

TIP?!

Wear slippers to the reporting point! As all foot gear will be provided, there’s no point wearing shoes. It is definitely much convenient! 😀

Some prefer to wear their own boots, and it is allowed, however, I would advise against it. You never know if you might get your boots doused in glacier pool during the hike, hence, it is better to wear the boots they provide.

2. Helicopter Flight Onto The Glacier Landing Site

It was my first time in a helicopter, and I was lucky enough to be able to sit at the front; next to the pilot! Taking in the best views of the upper icefall and Victoria Falls, I had an aerial view of the picturesque vistas, which was very much short-lived (approximately 5 minutes flight?).

We were the second group to arrive on the landing site. It was prefect, as this provided a good opportunity for us to get our excitement in check, analysed the terrain, and snapped some shots while we wait for the others!

Before we left the landing site to explore the glacier, we were taught how to tie our crampons to our boots.

Luckily for those crampons, which were initially hard to walk in, to keep me in place, or else I would have ran amok on the glacier due to the excitement of it all. Nah… … Just being melodramatic!

But seriously, the snowy suffused landscape under the sun-drenched afternoon rays and clear blue sky was just so dandy!

3. Hiking- Ice Tunnels, Glacier Water, Ice Gaps & More Hilarious Moments!

Throughout the hike, the guide gave commentaries about the glacier; how the glaciers flowed from its edges carving the landscape into dramatic shapes with their inexorable erosive powers, etc. Or at least that’s what I think she said?? HHhhmm… …

Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention, because every time we stopped as a horde, supposedly to listen attentively to her commentaries, I would be very busy snapping pictures! Wahaha! #inmyownworld

Self-defense time.

I am not usually like this. J, of all people, would know I love listening to commentaries, but this time, however, nothing of what she said went into my brain! Oops.

I remember our very first stop was to enter a little ice tunnel. It was just so invigorating and out of this world! I loved how the cerulean reflected in the tiny tunnel, with the ice ceiling glacier water dripping down on our heads and faces. It was definitely such a refreshing experience!

We were usually the slowest in the group because of us brazenly making quick snaps here and there. 😀 It was to an extent that the all- so- patient guide made us walk close along with her at the front of the pack! But we had our ways to slowly weasel ourselves to the back of the pack again. Haha! We really do sound like a pair of rascals on a school field trip giving the teacher a headache. Sneaky. Sneaky.

The best part of the entire hike on ice had to be us squeezing through an ice gap between tall ice walls. Somehow, the entire process reminded me of the James Franco starred movie- 127 Hours, except this was icy.

First we had to descend down ready made ice steps paved by the guide, and followed her through the ice gap in tandem. Before we advanced, she did mentioned that those who were claustrophobic could give this a miss.

We were the last few to enter the ice gap.

The way to walk through the gap is to place one foot on each side edge and trudged down. In other words, we were walking with our legs slightly open, and there was no platform between our legs. So looking down, it would just be the glacier water streaming. It wasn’t very deep or anything, so even if you slipped and fell in, it wasn’t any issue.

However… If your sunglasses dropped in… Well, now that’s an issue alright. A hilarious one too!

And here’s the dramatic scoop.

So there I was, behind J trying to be as adept as I could. Trudging through, and simultaneously snapping pictures quickly; trying not to hog up the last person behind me. But most importantly, making sure my camera doesn’t hit against the ice walls that were closing up on us as we proceed deeper into the ice gap.

Then I heard an object dropped into the water in front of me, followed by J’s ‘SHIT’ exclamation.

Soon, J was hollering slightly, “My sunglasses. Hhhmmm… Help me!”

The quick current of the water below us had made the sight of the sunglasses long gone. It probably streamed way down to some glacier pool by then. I knew her sunglasses were abjectly gone.

Then, I heard a splash. And a few moments, people at the front were passing the sunglasses to the back as if it was a baton race. Totally comical, as I saw the entire scene from the back. Apparently, the guide had ‘plunged’ into the stream below us to ‘save’ J’s sunglasses. Kudos to her! And shame on J for making the poor guide ‘plunged’ in like that. Tsk. Tsk. Oops! Haha! Just kidding… …

Because ultimately, we all had to ‘plunge’ down as well because the ice gaps were way too narrow for us to squeeze through.

At the end of this segment, our boots were filled with glacier water. Icy cold, my feet were numb, and wrinkled like an old prune.

Thinking back, it was such a dramatic experience that made the entire trip all the more intriguing. And such memories can never be bought. So I have J to thank for such moments of drama.

I mean, it is not every day you see your friend drop her sunglasses into glacier water, and certainly not every day you see the team spirit of passing the sunglasses-baton. Haha! Undoubtedly entertaining!

TIP?

In hindsight, do remember to keep any loose items before entering the ice gap, unless you too want a dramatic experience?

For more experience on Helihike, click on the video!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICJpSJOsmw8[/youtube]

 

Will I do it again?

I would not do this same tour again, as I feel a onetime experience is good enough. Just as bungee jumping is a good enough onetime experience, so is this. (Though I am not saying bungee jumping equates to helihiking, it’s just a comparison. But I suppose you get my point.)

However, if given a chance, I may want to try Fox it Up: Heli Ice Climbing Adventure. We saw people doing the Ice Climb while we were on the glacier, and that looked like fun too!

Another alternative could also be at Franz Josef! I heard the walk on the glacier at Franz Josef is awesome too!

It is all about trying new things! So if you haven’t tried Helihiking, you really should have a go at it for once; either at Fox Glacier or Franz Josef! Hope this is a helpful insight!

Remember to Travel Whenever and follow your dreams!

Dee

How to get there?

Best time to visit?

Sights & Sounds within Cataract Gorge

Recommended Walking Route

Have a lazy Sunday to spare in Launceston CBD?

Well… … Cataract Gorge is imperatively a place to visit for days when you feel like giving your feet a shot at being the mode of transportation.

No car. No bus. No train. And frankly, no grappling with maps or GPS! Whoo hoo…!

A super frivolous weekend focused solely on nothing, really. With no major agenda for the day… … Just let your feet bring you places! We all definitely need days like these in our itinerary; what I like to call ‘Buffer Days’. A whirlwind vacation is no vacation at all- if you know what I mean. 😀

During such ‘Buffer Days’, I am basically the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song. Just a sinuous minor change to a few phrases and it will all make perfect sense. Watch this… …

Today I don’t feel like doing anything

I just wanna walk aimlessly

Don’t feel like picking up my phone (GPS)

So if I get lost, just let me be

‘Cause today I really don’t feel like impelling

Ooh hoo Ooh hoo

So… … Maybe I am not a songwriter for the obvious reason, but hey, the lyrics really nailed it spot on!

What’s perfect about Cataract Gorge is that even if you get lost (which is highly impossible), no worries! You are still very close to the vicinity of the city- which means there will be loads of people to ask for directions, ’cause it’s after all the day you don’t feel like picking up your phone (GPS), right? *winks*

 

How to get there?

Address

Operating Hours
Cataract Gorge Reserve, 74-90 Basin Road, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

24/7

Note: Certain sights within the Gorge are not 24/7

a) On foot- The Healthier Choice!

We stayed at Hotel Launceston (Address: 3 Brisbane Street, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia), so it was approximately a 2 km walk to Cataract Gorge; roughly 30 minutes tops.

If you decide to stay at Hotel Launceston too (which was not a bad stay- reasonably decent), here are the directions.

Directions from Hotel Launceston to Cataract Gorge (~ 30 minutes walk)

1. Leisure stroll pass Launceston City Park on Brisbane Street.

2. Make a turn right onto George Street and a left onto Paterson Street.

3. Continue straight all the way on Bridge Road, passing Kings Park.

You will know you are near the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge when you espy the iconic Kings Bridge suspended over the Tamar River/ South Esk River. Just tranquil when the morning sun hits the bridge with the dense trees as backdrop and the calm river sprawled beneath it. Definitely a enthralling way to start the odyssey into the Gorge! 😀

b) By car

If your stay is further away, or just don’t wanna walk, a quick car journey of approximately 15 minutes tops from the CBD will get you to the destination.

Main parking area is located at the First Basin- follow the signage from York and Frederick Street.

If it isn’t already obvious enough, the mode of transportation unquestionably will be on foot. You get to have the experience of walking through the streets, and to take your time to see the humble buildings together with the less salient landmarks- plus points! 🙂

The walk on Bridge Road just before seeing Kings Bridge (near Stillwater Restaurant & Café) has this quirky wall graffiti. I don’t know about you, but it is such little sights (though seemed to be very mundane) along the way that makes the whole walk so much more meaningful.

Zooming by in the car does get you to the destination fast, but you are really just missing out the smaller yet better things in life! It’s not about the final reach, it’s the climb, no? ;D

 

Best time to visit?

Summer. This is by far an understatement, but yeah. Summer is definitely the best time to do any outdoor activity. It is also the time when facilities are open; and open for longer hours. Facilities include the outdoor swimming pool at the First Basin.

A time when you get to see the Gorge’s open field suffuse with sunlight. And many locals welcome Summer in a paroxysm of joy with evidence of enjoying a picnicking or sunbathing- the perfect time for a nice family and friends chillax.

 

Sights & Sounds within Cataract Gorge

There are just way too many larking activities to do and sights to see at Cataract Gorge. Here are just some suggestions (in no particular order).

Sights & Sounds #1

Address/ Telephone Operating Hours Admission Fee (Inclusive of GST)
First Basin Chairlift Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

 

Telephone

(03) 6331 5915

(Chairlift Office)

 

DailySpring & Fall09 00 – 17 00

Summer

09 00 – 17 30

Winter

09 00 – 16 30

Adult

AUS $12 (One Way)

AUS $15 (Two Way)

Concession (Seniors & Pensioners)

AUS $10 (One Way)

AUS $12 (Two Way)

Children (< 16 years old)

AUS $8 (One Way)

AUS $10 (Two Way)

NOTE: Children < 4 years old can travel for FREE.

This is the world’s longest single span chairlift, that covers approximately 457 metres with the terminal ends at the First Basin (near the Basin Café), and at the Cliff Grounds (near The Gorge Restaurant). You could hop on for a ride on either terminals.

The low speed chairlift provides an opportunity for a wide- angled pseudo aerial view of the ancient rock gorge. You probably will not be blasé about the view you are receiving from up there.

Sights & Sounds #2

Address Operating  Period Admission Fee
Swimming pool Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

November – March

FOC

The outdoor swimming pool is just located below the First Basin Café. During Summer, we saw loads of families and groups of teens having a day of fun chilling by the pool, and picnicking on the open field around the pool vicinity. The atmosphere was shrouded with inordinate amount of giggles, shrieks and staccato laughter here and there. It was an experience that just screams a definite Summer!

Sights & Sounds #3

Address Operating Hours Admission Fee
Alexandra Suspension Bridge Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

 

Daily

FOC

This is probably a must- snap landmark, aside the Kings Bridge (at the ‘entrance’ of Cataract Gorge). Situated just upstream from the First Basin, this bridge gives the view of both sides of the Gorge.

Standing in the middle on the suspension bridge will present you a distant view of the swimming pool, the Cliff Grounds and the First Basin from a slight elevated angle. Turning your attention to the back, you will see a gentle current flow of water down the South Esk River which pours nicely into the First Basin.

We managed to catch local teens in action as they set their air floating mattress to sail onto the First Basin. We also saw adults standing near the edge of the ‘cliff’ and making several plunges into the waters of the Basin, which was then followed suit by the kids as well.

Hhhmmm… … How safe was it? I don’t know. I was kinda not in congenial with the whole idea of plunging into the waters like that, but hey, who am I to judge right? They looked like they had done that way too often, so I guess swimming in the First Basin is a yes? I really do not know.

Sights & Sounds #4

Main Walking Tracks
Short Walks & Treks

1.      Cataract Walk

2.      Duck Reach Circuit

3.      Zig- Zag Track

There are so many tracks at Cataract Gorge. Some are mere short ones for those who just want a sneak peek on the tracks and the vistas it provides, and a few longer tracks for the energetic who wants a punch at it. I reckon the more popular walks would be the Duck Reach Circuit Track, and the Zig- Zag Track.

The Duck Reach Circuit Track, though rates level 3 with some uphill sections, is still suitable for children. This circuit leads further up the Gorge to the Second Basin and to the Duck Reach- which is the earliest municipal hydroelectric power station in Australia. This hydroelectric power station is now a popular tourist attraction, open as a museum (Interpretation Centre) since 1995. The walk takes about 1.5 hours to complete one full cycle.

Cataract Gorge is just too huge with most of the tracks somehow connected. The added bonus is that the Gorge is definitely well-maintained with clear signage to inform you which track you are leading to.

Depending on what you want to see, the many tracks to choose from will get you spoilt for choices! Imperatively a great morning walk for the entire family!

 

Recommended Walking Route

Route:

Cataract Walk–> The Gorge Restaurant–> Causeway Track –> First Basin Cafe –> Alexandra Suspension Bridge –> First Basin Cafe –> Zig- Zag Track

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

This is definitely not the must- walk route to take, but I feel through this route, we sort of cover most of the Gorge. We get to see the highlights Cataract Gorge has to offer, so I’m pretty much satisfied with it.

Cataract Walk

The Cataract Walk starts from the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge, at Kings Bridge. There are two ‘entries’ into the Gorge. The one on the left takes you through the Zig-Zag Track, and the other takes you through the Cataract Walk.

You might really want to consider the latter option, as the Zig-Zag Track from the ‘entrance’ takes you up steeper incline, whilst the Cataract Walk basically bring you through levelled ground. So unless you want to get your adrenaline pumping right at the beginning, the latter option just describes a way to pass a lazy Sunday!

The leisure Cataract Walk takes you through picturesque cliffs and rock formation with the semi-serene South Esk River flowing down the bank. After a distance of walking, you will notice a flight of steep ladder steps that leads you to a lookout, where you can espy the Alexandra Suspension Bridge from afar. The mounting up stairs to get the elevated view does give the Gorge a new perspective to it all.

The Gorge Restaurant

The walk to The Gorge Restaurant could be your respite for lunch. There are quite a few peacocks, peahens and their peachicks running loose outside the eatery. Toddlers and all were pretty much fascinated by the beautiful creatures. Playground facilities for kiddies are in this area as well.

The First Basin Chairlift terminal is also around this vicinity. Hence, if you are feeling kinda sluggish, a ride across the First Basin could be your ticket with a majestic view! 😀

Causeway Track

I do strongly suggest a walk through Causeway Track instead of taking the chairlift. I can vouch a nice photo along the way with the backdrop of the iconic Alexandra Suspension Bridge! I don’t think you would want to miss that!

First Basin Café

We had our lunch at the First Basin Café. The food portion was huge (for us), and the coffee wasn’t too bad. Best of all, the Café has a nice landscape view of the swimming pool and open fields below. You could also see the chairlifts passing by.

Not fancying Café food? A food kiosk just outside the Café has light snacks too!

I would recommend the Café though. #justsaying

Alexandra Suspension Bridge

The stroll to the suspension bridge was definitely a great way to walk off lunch. Just a short amble pass the swimming pool and you can get an awe-inspiring view of the vicinity! Without a doubt, a time to snap a hell load of pictures!

Zig- Zag Track

To get back to Launceston CBD, we had to get to the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge; either retracing our steps through Cataract Walk, or out through the Zig- Zag Track.

Well… … We all know retracing steps can be a little dreary, so Zig- Zag Track it was! Now going via this route is undeniably efficient-making in terms of energy consumption. Because most of it was descends. And when gravity works with you, life is so much easier. 😀

So that was how we ended a lazy Sunday (with gravity working in our favour) at Cataract Gorge!

Notice that I did not include the Duck Reach Circuit Track. Reason being we weren’t that all prepared for the walk all the way to the power station, and back. Besides, it was a lazy Sunday after all, so a simple easy- to- do track that covers the main highlights is good enough for us.

It all depends on what you want to get out of from the walk. If I were to visit Cataract Gorge again, then the Duck Reach Circuit Track will absolutely be the route I would take! 😀

It was definitely a gratifying laidback day packed with simple walks, good company and enchanting views. Totally no frets at all, just the way I like it on a weekend! If you are ever in Launceston CBD, I would definitely recommend a lazy weekend day trip at Cataract Gorge!

Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee