We stopped along the way to get a view of where we'd be hiking the next few days.
And then we were dropped at the trailhead.
The Routeburn Track is 32 kilometers long and we decided to tackle the distance in 3 days. Our first day was about 9 K long and began through the woods and along a river. Many a swing bridge was encountered.
After an hour, we found a lovely clearing in which to enjoy our afternoon snack.
We then continued the climb upwards to the Routeburn Falls Shelter, our first experience with a New Zealand Great Walks Hut.
The huts were amazing. Running water, flushing toilets, stoves, seating - it almost felt like we were cheating.
The next morning we had an 11 K hike ahead of us through the alpine area of the track.
A few K in, we decided to do the spur trail up Conical Hill. This was a steep, rocky and difficult climb but worth it for the views.
And then there was Andy. Andy who had this conversation with his doctor before leaving:
A: So you think I'll be okay to hike?
Doc: You should be fine. Just wear the brace and make sure the trails are solid. No rock scrambles or anything.
As Andy struggled down the hill he remarked, "My doctor would hate me right now."
Somehow he made it down and we continued our hike. As we rounded the bend in the mountain, we could see our finish line for the day below.
As we closed in on the hut, the trail wound it's way through the forest.
When we reached the hut, Andy was tired so he took a nap in "God's Chair."
Meanwhile, I watched the trail rangers compete in the Highland Games.
As we had hiked to the hut, a ranger passed us and filled us in on the games. The Routeburn track actually crosses through two different National Parks. On the 3rd day after Christmas, the rangers from each park meet at Mackenzie Hut and compete in various events like shot put, hammer toss and golf. It was entertaining to view after a day of hiking.
The next morning brought our first bout of clouds and mist as we descended the 12 K to the end of the trail.
We had one night of rest before we would begin our next Great Walk and decided to relax in our favorite way.