Tag

walk

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

Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps? 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY) 

GPSMyCity is a company that publishes iOS and Android travel related app which includes self-guided city walks and even travel articles of specific places of interest written by passionate travellers all around the world! Featuring over more than 1000 cities, this mobile app is imperatively useful on the go!

GPSMyCity is basically for a community of like-minded independent travel explorers who love to saunter through cities and explore new places of sights of interest, without the hassle of a time constraint that one would face, if in a tour group.

Hence, with GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps all downloaded into your mobile device, you would be your very own personal tour guide. Because in GPSMyCity… … You could always “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”… … Well unless your mobile device battery decides to fail on you. 😛

 

Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps?

So what are the benefits of downloading GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps?

1. SAVE function (It’s FREE!)

So to be honest, a few years ago, when buying prepaid data SIM cards in foreign countries were really not an option for me, I did the most obvious way to save a travel article or important information I found online: PRINTING.

Yes, good old fashion hardcopy! Hey, hardcopies never fail you, unlike unstable data connection… … Right? The downside to this, other than wasting paper and destroying the Earth, would be that they added extra baggage weight to lug with you all around whilst exploring new places. Furthermore, it gets crumpled easily especially when your bag is not waterproof and you get caught in the rain. #beentheredonethat

Then came screenshots. Screenshots of sections of travel articles I deemed important etc., and at the same time, ultimately increasing so many images in my Camera Roll on my phone that on the day that I actually want to use it? I have a hard time finding it! Yes, I have poor organisation skills… But…

Now… … With GPSMyCity’s travel apps, we all can have the luxury of reading travel articles without having to carry along extra baggage or piling up on images in Camera Roll. And the best part, we can all read it OFFLINE. Yes, no need for mobile data at all! You could read the articles you want on the plane en route to your lovely vacation destination, or even in the forest during your hikes, if you would like to confirm certain details about the hiking routes etc. Because to be honest, we all know, even with mobile data, the connection in the middle of nowhere can be pretty unstable. Hence, the SAVE function really does put one at ease! 😀

All you have to do is to click on the SAVE button on the top right corner of the app, and you would have downloaded the travel article you want under “Downloads” to be read OFFLINE. It is really that simple, and FREE!

2. AUDIO function (It’s FREE!)

And there’s this cute AUDIO function in GPSMyCity travel article app that allows you to listen to the travel article whenever you want! It’s basically an audiobook, but TRAVEL related! That’s kinda cool don’t you think so? Haha!

3. MAP function (Upgrade)

If you go for the upgrade version of GPSMyCity travel article app, at a small fee per article, you would be converting the travel article to a GPS-guided version. You would be getting travel routes (either by foot, car and bicycle) to your attraction of interest. This upgrade really does give you a peace of mind with great convenience.

Basically, with the upgrade MAP function, the map will display all the attractions mentioned by the author in the travel article you were reading. There is no need for the hassle of going through an extra step of looking up the directions on Google Maps to get there!

In addition, with build in GPS function, the travel app gives you the exact route from your current location to your selected attraction of interest! How hassle-free is that?! You could literally “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”!

Just hit the bottom 2nd button from the right, and you will be on your merry way to data-free exploration at the palm of your hands! Perfecto!

4. WALK Function (Upgrade)

The bottom right WALK function is a useful tool for you to create personalised self-guided walk; solely featuring attractions of your choice! You are your own travel planner.

There are times when we may not want all the itinerary stated in the travel article due to lack of time or even differences in interest. Hence, with this WALK function, you have the option to select some or all the sights mentioned in the travel article.

Now, you would have your own personalised travel itinerary at your fingertips; really easily for you to work with and manoeuvre around! Hence, making your travels so much leisurelier!

 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY)

With this, I am happy to announce that I am partnering with GPSMyCity to convert my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” on TravelWhenever, to a GPSMyCity travel article app that can be viewed offline!

To add on to this, for a limited period only, GPSMyCity will be giving away FREE upgrade of my travel article app for an entire week (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017). During this period, my travel article on GPSMyCity can be upgraded to a GPS-guided travel article version which includes the MAP function and the WALK function (mentioned above); FREE!

So if you have no data, or wifi, or even unstable internet connection? No worries! This upgrade would give you the confidence and convenience of self-travel OFFLINE!

With thousands of travel articles at your fingertips when you download the FREE GPSMyCity app, what are you waiting for? You can access the travel article apps by first downloading the GPSMyCity app on your mobile device.

Once you have downloaded the app, you can browse by city to see which articles are available. You can download any travel articles for free using the SAVE function for offline reading, or for an upgrade to get the GPS-guided travel article version.

To find my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” and get the FREE UPGRADE (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017), click here.

With GPSMyCity in your pocket and all times, hopefully this will drive your passion a little deeper to head out and explore places with confidence!

And always 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:

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

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

Route: Ronny Creek–> Crater Falls –> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Walks in the Cradle Mountain region are very walkers’ friendly I would say. With so many route options available leading to the same destination (as the saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome”, well in this case, “All tracks lead to a virtually impeccable landscape”), it’s no wonder we found ourselves revisiting the same spot again, just via a different trail each time.

You can choose your route base on your level of fitness and endurance, hence you will not be missing out on the spectacular vista and feeling all despondent because of the lack of fitness profiency.

You will be amaze by what each trail has to offer! Every trail opens up to a whole new world of alpine scrubs, meadows and tannin stained streams and lakes.

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Going via this route was sort unplanned as it was a wrong turn made on our part. However, it was definitely a mistake well made. It was also this route where I saw cute “Christopher Columnus” and his family.

This route passing by Lake Lilla has many uneven rocky sections. But definitely a trail to stumble across with many tiny streams of tannin waters that really looked so refreshing as it glistens under the Summer sky. Totally sparkly gorgeous!

I remember a really long and arduous flight of steps we had to surmount as we journeied towards Wombat Pool (or was it passing by Wombat Pool-I cannot remember vividly.). A rest platform is avaiable at Wombat Pool before a steeper incline- probably a good spot to recharge and hydrate before a round of heavy duty up slope.

Travelling up the rocky incline was actually one of the best parts of the hike. I always feel so invigorated when I enconunter such sections of a hike. Reminiscing the time at Cape Raoul in Port Arthur, Hobart, where I had to cross a moss- filled slippery tree log on four limps, and climbing at the edge of the cliff.

In this case, I wasn’t climbing on four limbs, nor was I anywhere near the very edge, but this activity had about the same level of fun and excietment ! 😀

The good thing about this route up is that there will be mini sections of somewhat flat (hmmmm… … not exactly flat per se) and saf(er) grounds for us to take a breather and enjoy the beauty that came with.

We could just stand many feet above sea level and enjoy the inundating landscape. The cloudless sky and the unobstructed view of Wombat Pool down below, with Lake Lilla and a partial Dove Lake view all within my peripheral version! Just awesome!

Climbing further up on partial boarded stairs and inclined gravels led us to a rest spot for people to take pictures of the magnificent Crater Lake down below. How blue and calm the lake looks, and from the top, we could see the boat shed too! This was definitely one of the highlights.

 

To Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

In my opinion, the route from Ronny Creek is much gentler as compared to the one via Lake Lilla. Yes, there is no running away from many flights of boarded stairs, but I just feel safer as I ascended amongst the tall alphines.

Maybe I have registered internallly that if I fall to my death, the bushes would somehow miraculously cushion the impact. I know, how silly of me to think that, but I just do. Haha…

Besides, the inital journey from Ronny Creek has all flat boarded platforms. How very welcoming it was. This is the same area where we saw many fluffy wombats!

After languorously trotting upwards, we finally reached a much cooler section of the hike- Crater Falls, where we entered the rainforest. We could really feel the temperature drop a few degrees as we entered the rainforest; so much cooler as compared to the Summer’s heat. Of course we had to spend some time inside the rainforest to cool ourselves down, hydrate, slump in the bench and listen to the waterfall crashing down.

Once we were out of the cool rainforest and into the heat, we had another round of stairs climbing and walking on unevenness before we arrived at the boat shed on Crater Lake.

From here onwards, the route is basically the same as the route via Lake Lilla.

 

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Combining BOTH routes in one?

Because the earlier route wasn’t part of the plan (as mentioned), in order to cover Crater Falls, and having already covered Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, we decided to get to the Falls via Ronny Creek- which was much easier. And since we were already at the Falls, so why not just continue on since the Crater Lake isn’t that far away. This was our, then, rationale.

As I have been through both routes, I reckon I have enough “qualification” to make a suggestion on how to improve/modify and make the hike more experiential?

Hence, my suggestion for the route to Marions Lookout would be to COMBINE BOTH:

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout–> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Crater Falls–> Ronny Creek
Average Walk Time: I can’t vouch the duration as I have not done this route in unison. But if I would gauge… Probably 5(ish) hours? But don’t take my word for it, give amble time to rest, hydrate, lunch and snap (photos).
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

My philosophy? After some hard work (climbing), a sweet reward (cool rainforest) will come.

Turn around and ENJOY

The key to get the most out of any walks/ hikes is to not rush through it. Take a moment or two to turn back and immerse the view behind. You will be surprise what the backdrop offers. Of course don’t take too long a pause, if not a 3 hours hike may actually take 6 hours? 😀

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park. Travel whenever and enjoy the hike!

Dee

Route: End of Cradle Mountain Road (Circuit Jaunt)
Distance: 5.7 km (3.5 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 3.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots)
Difficulty: 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

How to get there?

Glacier Rock

Getting tangible with Dove Lake

Angular view of Cradle Mountain

Boatshed

Canoeing on Dove Lake

 

How to get there?

From our stay at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, an approximately 15 – 20 minutes drive along Cradle Mountain Road, led us to the end, and marked the start of one of Tasmania’s premier walks- the Dove Lake Circuit Track!

(FYI, taking the free shuttle service can also bring you to Dove Lake, and this is advisable since parking spaces are limited. The frequency for these shuttle services are reasonable too.)

Upon arrival at the parking lot, the partial view of the cerulean waters of Dove Lake was enough to keep us enraptured for a moment or two. Not to mention the backdrop of the 2 leading spires of Cradle Mountain protruding high up against the sky. What a picturesque vista that no image captured on camera could ever do justice to. Seriously, you need to be there to see it in full view.

Hiking Highlights and Views

We were swooned as we got closer to the start of the circuit track, though the waters ain’t as blue as it was for view at the parking lot, it looked really clear, clean and super refreshing- to an extend that J and I wanted to douse ourselves inside for a refreshing late morning splash. It only we could… … We just might… …

Between the both of us, J was a tad excited than I was. She had done research on Cradle Mountain many months before we embarked on this odyssey, so she was extremely excited for this part of the entire Tasmanian vacation.

Since it’s a circular track, venturing from either side would be the same. However, we decided to start from the left, as that was what the signage stated. Very typical, I know.

 

Glacier Rock

After experiencing the walk (starting from the left), I suggest that everyone should do the same. WHY?

The initial part of the walk allowed us to spend an interminable amount of time up on the Glacier Rock taking pictures with natural late morning sunlight! Furthermore, we got to have an unobstructed view of Cradle Mountain, and a pseudo bird’s eye view of Dove Lake.

It was a perfect way to start off a walk, don’t you think?

If you looked closely at the surface of the Rock, you will see parallel grooves engraved into it caused by debris within the glacier that moved down from the slopes of Cradle Mountain many moons ago.

TIPS? Try to stay rooted to the uneven rock, and try not to plunge into the lake, though how inviting it may look. The tracks may be slippery too, so don’t get too carried away with photo takings that you accidentally plunge.

 

Getting tangible with Dove Lake

Walking on the boardwalks around the Lake led us to a mini outlet or two where we could sit by the sandy shore with the waters of Dove Lake just a pebble’s throw away. It was a great instant to stay serene with nature, and stare at the waters with the two spires in the far distance.

This was the moment where we all took a deep breath and wished time could just pause forever.

Since the waters was just within reach and all so alluring, I couldn’t resist not putting my hands in for a cold swirl. Hey, if I can’t douse my whole body in it, at least let my hands have a go at it, huh? 😀

 

Angular view of Cradle Mountain

Sauntering around the Lake gave us angular views of the 2 jutting spires of Cradle Mountain that ensorcelled us as we stood beneath. After awhile we came to realised the tons of photos of Cradle Mountain we had as the backdrop- viewed from different parts of Dove Lake. Haha… … 😀

A walk cannot be complete without admiration of the flowers that grow so perfectly along the boardwalk. And what about appreciating the little streams that trickle from the rainforest? Oh yes, what about the wildlife, insects and amphibians too? 😀

Nature is just beautiful like that. If we could spare some time to pause and absorb, we would be awe-stricken.

 

Boatshed

Another popular icon in many photographs of Dove Lake would be the boatshed that stands humbly by the shore of the Lake; with Cradle Mountain afar.

The boatshed was build mainly out of King Billy pine. It was built back in the 1930s, as boating was popular back then.

 

Canoeing on Dove Lake

Our stay- Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge offers canoe trips on Dove Lake during Summer. It was pretty easy for us to enquire and book a slot with them upon our arrival at check-in.

The costs is not exactly cheap- it’s approximately AUS$80- ish? However, this trip provided by the Lodge, includes afternoon tea, life vests (not for keeping afterwards, of course), tips of how to manoeuvre the canoe, and a dash of insights of the Dove Lake area.

As we aren’t adept canoeist (I have never held a paddle before in my life), we weren’t so on the ball of things, and were actually behind the “class” in all tasks. It was mad hilarious. We were practically laughing our ass off during the entire 3.5 hours trip.

Let me describe to you in detail of what was actually happening, so any first-timers out there could be prepared and not face the same awkwardness as we did… … Haha…

You know the movie Dump & Dumper? The one where the pair was acting all weird, clumsy and goofy? Well, imagine them being girls, and younger.

When the rest of the “class” had already advanced further towards Glacier Rock and were there listening to the insights by the guides, we were still way behind struggling to join the pack. We were laughing half the time to even get the canoe to move, and when we did move, we were going in circles! It was seriously quite an embarrassing sight. LOL!

Finally we made it close to the Rock, but by that time, the guide had finished speaking and the “class” was ready to canoe to the next location.

This was after J tried to murder me (yes, she did) by canoeing us way too close to the Rock that had protruding sharp branches. By the time, I yelled for her to stop paddling and me trying to use the paddle to stop the canoe from advancing, the branch was already so close to me it slit my wrist a little during the mini struggle. Flies started fluttering in front of me for our canoe had perturbed their afternoon slumber. (-.-)”

Ah yes… …Definitely a Dump & Dumper moment. Don’t judge.

As J had done some really minor canoeing in Vietnam, of course I took the cue from her. Her miniscule experience in canoeing was our only asset to bring us through the 3.5 hours. Sounds like torture huh? But it was not, really. It was like a self-entertained sitcom. We did way too embarrassing things that tickled us silly. We saw ourselves being extremely way behind the “class” that it was pricelessly comical.

We were constantly reverent that the “class” could paddle like some sort of pro-athletes. Way to go people!

So I paddled when J instructed me to, and also stopped even when she wanted me NOT to. I was tired alright. I needed a break to embrace nature, leave me alone. LOL.

I felt real bad that I was at the front seat gawking at Cradle Mountain, and splashing the waters when she was at the back struggling to keep us on track with the class. So I offered to take over, with full on enthusiasm and energy thinking that I could paddle for at least awhile longer while J rested. But this determination lasted a few seconds, and in the end, we both weren’t paddling as we saw the “class” float into the horizon, while we were left at the centre of the Lake.

Okay, I exaggerated here. The guides aren’t that mean. When they saw as “liabilities” of the “class” stranded, they paddled back to get us and tied our canoe to theirs so we won’t be left behind! Hooray for the invention of ropes, seriously!

As they were tying the ropes, I could still remember I asked a very cheeky question- probably I was too tired to think straight.

“Yay. So, this is like a free pass right?”

“Oh no. You still have to paddle ya? Or we will all be here until sunset.”

After being tied to them, and knowing now there was no way we will be behind the pack, I spend most of the time playing with the waters by making mini waves with my hands as the canoe moved. J, on the other hand, was a “good student”. She paddled, and only took short pauses to rest.

For that, I would like to laud her. She has some serious determination when it comes to canoeing. You go girl!

As I was having my moment with the waters of Dove Lake, J was at the back reminding me to paddle. So trying not to be a freeloader, I mustered all my energy left in my arms, and paddled with all my might- which of course lasted for a few seconds. How feeble my arms are.

Okay people, I’ve tried. My arms just can’t. Make me walk for miles up slopes and down, but don’t make me canoe.

Would I want to experience this again? Sure! Why not? Not the part where J tried to murder me of course. The other parts of this are definitely good to relive. Haha…!

Since I was not the one doing most of the paddling (thank you J and the guides), and I could enjoy Cradle Mountain from a unique perspective. So why not? 😀 And not to mention all the laughs and embarrassing actions we did- I honestly don’t mind reliving them.

Life is all about new experiences and laughter, and so what if we “humiliated” ourselves in front of the “class” and guides? What matter most was that we had a ball of a time laughing at each other’s stupidity.

At least now I can tell people I have canoed before? Or does this not count? 😀

Hope this inspires you to insert new experiences in your life, embrace nature and travel whenever!

Dee

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

If you are a novice in walks/ hikes, then a great place to start would imperatively be at the Cradle Mountain vicinity. This place offers grade 1 walks to higher level intensity and challenge. After some hikes in Hobart, up Cape Raoul and Fluted Cape, the walks and hikes in Lake St Clair National Park does seem to be really no kick at all. Not trying to vaunt, but it is what it is. 😀

Of course, I am not referring to the Overland Track which requires me to pitch tents, bring my own food/ water supplies and live in campsites for days as I (that is, if I can) advance further up the mountains.

This national park has made the trails tracks within the Cradle Mountain vicinity so family-friendly. With most trails on levelled boardwalks (J’s favourite walk paths), a few uneven inclined steps and rocky fissures, this is definitely child’s play- literally. We saw many families on the hikes, with kids as young as 5? 6 maybe?

I remember vividly of a family of 5 from Hong Kong – Dad, Mum, Grams and 2 kids. The preschooler in the family was adamant he was the next Christopher Columbus that when his Pops made a wrong turn sending them in the opposite direction, “Little Columbus” decided it was time to take charge and exclaimed, “Dad, I told you, it’s this way. This way!”

Exhilarated, the little boy trotted along the path and passed us. His dad meekly allowed himself to be led, while the other 3 family members jaunted some distance behind. What a heart-warming sight I must say.

 

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

We arrived at our stay close to late afternoon. By the time we settled the checking in and other miscellaneous, I was already quite bushed (probably from the long ride from Launceston city). Too beat to even feel enraptured by the largest stay we ever had.

Frankly I didn’t even want to go out after we checked it. I laid on the day bed facing the somewhat angular high ceiling and the picture mounted to the wall- I could fall asleep then and there.

“So what now? Do you want to go out?”

I ignored J’s question. Shut my eyes and try to find some sort of serenity.

She asked again. Duress to reply, we ended up heading out for an evening walk towards Ronny Creek.

 

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

Route: Snake Hill -> Ronny Creek
Distance: 2 km (1.3 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 35 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

As it was evening, taking an easy walk seems the right way to end off a languorous day. We took the free shuttle service from the Rangers Station/ Interpretation Centre, which was just a 5 minutes’ walk from the Lodge. The walk from Snake Hill is super clear cut; boardwalks throughout. In truth, I was kinda taken aback by how easy the walk really is. I am sure J would differ otherwise- she really adores boardwalks. I reckon the only 2 worries you need to fret during this harmless walk are:

Animal poopies Don’t want to soil your track shoes, now do we? Prime suspect? Wombats, maybe? I’m sorry cute stuffs, but I seriously believe the poopies left at intervals on the boardwalk belongs to you guys! Haha! 😀
Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay) Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay)- My first encounter with this bird was during this seemingly risk-free evening stroll. I was walking way faster than J, and unfathomably I didn’t notice the Currawong standing stationary on the perch at the end of the bridge! So I continued on, and by the time I noticed it, I was about an arm’s length and half away from it!It glared straight into my eyes as I did in its.  Only difference was, mine was more of gawking than glaring. What a fearsome looking creature it was. I sort of froze for a few seconds, uncertain of what to do next. I turned behind, and saw J paused at the other end of the bridge as she espied what was ahead. I gingerly made my way towards her, and we waited for it to take flight.

 

I can still remember distinctly the death stare it gave me. I   read in a hotel brochure somewhere that Currawongs can recognise faces? So whether or not it is true, better be save and not stare at one for it may register you- if you are hapless!

After an approximately half hour’s walk, we arrived at Ronny Creek. The view at Ronny Creek is definitely way better than during the walk through Snake Hill in my opinion.

With large pasture of open spaces filled with patches of button grass (Wombats’ food source, FYI), this is definitely a nice place to respite and soak in the moment in all its glory.

It is mentioned by the driver in the shutter service that Ronny Creek is the best place to spot Wombats! And aren’t we lucky? Our first day in Lake St Clair National Park, and we saw cute stuff! 😀 Just soak it all in people. Just soak it all in… …

 

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

Route: Front of the Lodge (Circular Track)
Distance: 1 km (0.62 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 20 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

What I love about the stay (aside the huge room), is the activities the Lodge provides, and the very strategic location. After our walk through Snake Hill, we decided to go on this guided stroll since it is just located adjacent to the Lodge. How very so convenient huh?

Even the King Billy Track is just a few metres from our room! We popped by and went on this walk on one of the other evenings before dinner. I still remember I could even go back to our room and grab an apple to munch as we meander through the rain forest! Haha…!

The guide was really amiable and informative as he got the group engaged- for me at least; since I love to listen to stories and histories- even the histories of the ancient rain forest and the Pencil Pine river seemed to intrigue me somehow! He talked about the age of trees that he pointed to, and plants to look at in detail etc.

During the tour, we all spotted another wombat (minding its business) and the entire group was all busy gawking at it instead of listening to the guide. So he decided to pause a moment and let us be amused by the cute stuff before he continued. How thoughtful! 😀

We were on a streak here when it comes to spotting Wombats! Yay!

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park! Travel whenever and spot for cute stuffs (a.k.a Wombats) at Ronny Creek!

Dee