Come See the Fiordland Rain – Part One

“On a Mish” #300 Come See the Fiordland Rain – Part One. Clinton Valley. Fiordland National Park. 24.2.2013. I have always had difficulty doing any justice to describing Fiordland rain. It really is something you have to experience for yourself. The way it can completely change an environment is insane and can open your mind about just how heavily rain can fall. There are actually two Fiordland’s. One is when the sun is shining and all of the impressive mountains are on show. The other is when the heavens open up and the rain comes pouring down…

After five seasons on the Routeburn Track it was time for a change and luckily the company I worked for (Ultimate Hikes) had guided walks on both the Routeburn and Milford Tracks. Many Routeburn guides will tell you that changing from the Routeburn to the Milford Track is turning to the darkside! But as I found during the season I worked on the track, the sun shone bright for about 95% of the time. I have to thank my parents for the head start on hiking and for moulding my mind into one that loves the outdoors. I always like to get them out into the environment I work in, and along with seeing the pristine environment they also get to stay in the luxurious lodges and enjoy the outstanding food. While working on the Routeburn Track I got to see Fiordland at its watery best, with many hikes in the heavy rain. This gave me a real appreciation for the weather and also taught me that hiking in the rain can be fun. With all this in mind I invited my parents for a hike on New Zealand’s most famous hiking track and they were joined by some of their friends. As the trip grew closer I kept an eye on the weather, and really hoped that there was heavy rain on the horizon. As we drove from Queenstown to Te Anau the dawn sky was clear of any cloud. After a feed in Te Anau we were back on the buses bound for the ferry at Te Anau Downs. The trip up Lake Te Anau was nothing but sunshine and building anticipation. We arrived at Glade Wharf and began the short hike up to Glade House (first lodge on the track). As we gathered for the group photo the team basked in the afternoon’s gloriously warm t-shirt weather, the type of weather most Milford Track walkers dream of. After the photo we wandered our way up to the Glade Burn for a look down at Lake Te Anau and also a good chance to stretch our legs. Dinner was awesome as always and afterwards we introduced ourselves and informed the group that tomorrow’s weather was going to be nothing but sunshine!

The Team at the Start of the Milford Track

Early-ish the next day the team saddled up and began their Milford Track adventure. The inversion layer in the Clinton Valley didn’t hang around for very long, and before we knew it the sun was bearing down on us and we were reaching for the sunscreen instead of the rain jacket. Not long after starting there is a side track out to an excellent viewing area amongst the bogs of a wetland. If customers want to do this side-trip they are asked to leave their bags on the side of the main track. As I approached the pile of bags I saw Jeremy’s (my father’s) sitting on top and now it was time for revenge…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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