Back in the Game (Part One) – Lake Marian Trek

“On a Mish” #269 Back in the Game (Part One). Eglington Valley & Hollyford Valley. Fiordland National Park. 14.4.2021. It had been a long time since I had last tasted the sweet air of wild Fiordland, thanks to the work of a large fridge door on a cruise ship. The timing couldn’t have been any worse as just after my hip was wiped out (literally) the world was plunged into covid chaos. The delay in treatment wasn’t the best way to recover, but somehow after 13 months down I finally got back up and was ready to get back in the game…

After a lot of physio work starting at home and then at the gym, I slowly started to at first walk, and then hike. My hikes were as easy as possible for a while but as time went on I craved something bigger and better. I felt like it was time to really test the abilities of my unused old legs, and luckily I had the option of doing it in the world class scenery of Fiordland.

The planning began in my lounge looking at maps, with my goal being something accessible from the Milford or Hollyford Road. Almost as soon as my eyes began to scan the map the idea of the Lake Marian Track popped into my head. The hike is a 3 hour loop track which climbs its way into the hanging valley containing a lake and some of the best scenery on the planet.

Ironically, and sadly, the last time I walked the track was not long after a massive slip had smashed its way across the road, ‘nearly’ taking out Gunns Camp in the process. Only two months before this mish a Ata Whenua super storm moved the land around the camp again and this time the small collection of cabins took a direct hit and it was apparent that the iconic and priceless piece of history would never be the same again. The cyclonic weather had left its mark in the form of frequent road work sites on the only sealed road in Fiordland.

With my plan etched in Darran Mountain stone I got some rest, as it would be an early-ish start the next day.

Dawn in the Eglington Valley

I was on the road around 6am, and I had the rare pleasure of a completely empty Milford Road. Normally before covid it didn’t matter when you went on the road, you would always see at least a couple of cars. Now the road was quiet, I’m guessing like it was many years before my time in tourism.

I stopped in at the Eglington Valley view point, which is something I usually never do due to the masses flooding the valley like the rain. For the very first time I saw the famous stretch of highway completely empty and I took the opportunity to take a few pictures of the incredible view in the low light of dawn. It was a good start to say the least, and with the craggy silhouettes of the Earl Mountains becoming visible I pushed on towards the mighty Darran Mountains.

The sky was creamy pink and light orange as I crested the Divide, and the stunning sight made me pull into the Marian Corner view point to take in the morning spectacle.

It is no wonder people all over the world gather to see the magic of the mountains of Fiordland National Park.

I turned off the Milford Road onto Lower Hollyford Road and was at the Lake Marian car park, nervous and excited. It was empty, a sight I had never seen before. I will never forget seeing the recently extended car park area so full there were cars double parked on the road, making the sort of vehicle chaos which made you feel as if you had somehow left Fiordland and arrived in the busy streets of a large city. Now thanks to covid there was only one car and I was the driver!

With laces tied and day pack on I was optimistic, nervous and bloody happy to be back in Fiordland, and back in the game…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter