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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queenstown and the Routeburn track


9 am check-in at AJ Hacket, the Bungy jump shop. After some routine questions they weight me and write a number on my hand. 20 min of waiting time follow. I look around and notice a guy with a terrified face. He happens to be doing the same jump as me and is having second thoughts about it... Georg, is a german guy who was working for a couple of months in a farm and is now enjoying the country for a couple of weeks before going back home.

The bus journey to the Nevis jumping place takes about 40 min. Then it's time to put on all the stuff we need. I end up talking with a brasilian girl most of the time. Well, the jump is terrifying and fantastic at the same time. Everything happens quite fast, but it's impossible not to remember those 8 sec of free fall. I end up buying the video instead of the printed photos as was my first intention. I can make photos from the video later. I've uploaded part of the video to the Queenstown album in case you're still trying to understand how high are 134m!

Preparing for the Routeburn track

Back in town, I have lunch with Georg and we plan to go together to Milford Sounds tomorrow and on the way back he leaves me in The Divide where I start my walk.

Then I have to rush from one place to another to prepare for the coming three days. First buying the hut permits, which allow me to stay at the Department of Conservation (DOC) huts along the way. I make a mistake doing the reservation so I have to go back there a second time. The weather forecast is fantastic, they expect clear weather for the rest of the week, which is quite unusual. This means i'm fine with the gear I have. Just need to buy the food for the next three days. There are cooking facilities in the huts, but no food. It's the main difference to Nepal. Last thing to do is booking the bus from the end of the track in Routeborn shelter back to Queenstown. After this, I just need to unpack my backpack, leaving only things to sleep and to keep me warm and the food I bought. I'm actually carrying mostly food. After Nepal I'm not doing the same mistake. I'll wear the same clothes for 3 days!

Later in the evening I meet Georg for dinner and for a beer. We agree on leaving Queenstown at 8 am tomorrow.

The Routeburn

Well, after a couple of hours on the road I understood I wouldn't have time to go to Milford Sounds, so we just stopped in Te Anau for a coffee (and for me to buy a pot... I completely forgot about it) and then continued in the direction of Milford.

At 12.30 I said goodbye to Georg. We agree on meeting again when i'm back in Queenstown. And then here I am tramping in New Zealand :)

The three days of tramping were fantastic. The scenaries are beautiful, the view from the top of Conical Hill is breathtaking. On one side you can see the river flowing down in the valley, ending in the sea that is visible because the weather is fantastic. On the other side of the mountain there's a white carpet of clouds covering a lake. It really feels like jumping on them and float. I ended up meeting some really nice people in the huts. The huts were the biggest problem actually. They're not heated in the sleeping bunkers so it gets pretty cold at night (below 0) and I was not prepared for such extreme temperatures! I managed but was a bit uncomfortable both nights. The second problem I had were the blisters on my calfs. Liliana, the cushioned bandages you gave me saved me :) and finally a minor wet feet problem in the last day due to the frost on the vegetation from a side track I went on (goretex my hass!), completes the list of difficulties I experienced. Nope, compared to the ABC climb, this was a piece of cake! It is actually possible to do it in 2 days easily, without rushing too much.

I come to the end exhausted but happy. It was perfect, just as I thought it would be. I actually now feel like doing more, but... I don't have time :( The Rees Daart track, the Milford and the Kepler are really appealing! Maybe in a future visit. I also realise that if I want to do some more trekking I should probably buy new shoes...

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