Hiking the Routeburn, an 8 year old’s view
Hooray! We’ve been in New Zealand for a few weeks and are having a grand old time. I have plenty to report eventually, but in the meantime, for a change of pace, Miles agreed to help me write a post about our recent 4-day trip hiking the Routeburn Track. He dictated, I typed. Enjoy.
I’ve done some overnight backpacking before at home in Washington, but I had never gone on a 3 night, 32km walk before this trip. My mom really wanted to do this walk called the Routeburn, though, and signed us all up. The Routeburn is one of the eight Great Walks of New Zealand. Great Walks are overnight, giant hikes that have nice huts that you can stay in with bunk beds, fireplaces, kitchens and bathrooms. My Mom and Dad had been telling me about it a lot and getting ready for a long time. I had to carry my clothes, sleeping bag and pillow, rain gear, some of the snacks and food, and I picked two of my stuffed animals. I have a good backpack and I’ve been carrying it around for months, so I’m used to the weight.
The first day of the hike was short. It only took one and a half hours and it was raining very hard. When it was raining, it wasn’t really that bad. Streams ran across the middle of the path that were fun to jump over. Also, I had good rain gear so I didn’t really get wet. When we got to Howden Hut, we were psyched to get inside where it was warm and cozy.
When we got to each hut our routine was to first claim four beds, then write their numbers down on a clip board. We would get out our sleeping bags and I would inflate our pillows. Then we would hang up any wet gear, change into our hut clothes, and make some hot chocolate. You have to share the hut space with a lot of other people, but that was okay. I heard a guy snoring pretty loudly at Howden Hut, but I was too tired for it to keep me awake very long.
On our second day, which was 8.6km, we really did hike. I slipped and fell two times. It had stopped raining but it was still foggy and the rivers were noisy. One time we had to go past a giant waterfall that had a lot of spray and wind. It was called Earland Falls. We stopped to put on our rain coat and pants for that part. When we stopped for lunch we started to see some mountains with snow on top popping out of the mist and by the time we got to our destination, Lake MacKenzie Hut, the sky was blue and we could see really pretty mountains. At Lake MacKenzie I did quite a lot of bouldering down by the lake.
On our third day, we started out knowing it was going to take at least 5 hours to get to the next hut. We went along a trail that switchbacked up steep cliffs until we were above the clouds. We saw some more pretty mountains, then dropped back down into the clouds for a while, then climbed up to Harris Saddle where we had lunch. We were almost at the highest point of the Routeburn and knew the rest of the hike would be mostly downhill. We crossed a really sunny alpine meadow and got to our third and last hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, where I couldn’t wait to lay down on my comfy bunk. That day we walked 11.3kms.
On our last day, we went downhill the whole way. There were some swinging suspension bridges across streams that were less scary than I thought they would be. I felt great getting to the end of the trail, then we drove to Queenstown and had a gigantic hamburger at Fergburger which tasted great after having three nights of camping food (although everything tasted pretty good because we worked up such appetites!) Overall, the Routeburn was less tiring and more fun than I thought it would be. I’m looking forward to the Abel Tasman, the next Great Walk we are going to do in another week!