Going Guided (Part Five) – Whakatipu Ka Tuka / The Hollyford Track

“On a Mish” #186 Going Guided (Part Five). Whakatipu Ka Tuka / The Hollyford Track. Fiordland National Park. 27.1.2016. The great Rangatira (Chief) Tutoko lived with whanau at Martins Bay when the Europeans arrived, and his iwi had lived there for a very long time before then. The beauty of the area is rivalled by the wild weather that often lashes the coastline. Back in the time of Tutoko there weren’t any lodges, jetboats, huts or helicopters. And certainly no option of going guided when visiting the Hollyford Valley…

For us to get to Tutoko’s home from the end of the Hollyford Road we had to deal with plenty of wind, a lot of water, and everything else that comes with a ferocious Fiordland storm. So getting there seemed like an almighty reward. And it was as if Tutoko’s spirit willed the wet weather away for us so we could marvel at the beach and bush he once called home.

After seeing the seals, we jumped back in the boat and were whisked back to a welcome at Martins Bay Lodge. We were drenched, and getting to a warm lodge and jumping into dry clothes was bliss. We had made it to paradise and now it was time to enjoy the spoils.

At one point during dinner a couple of independent hikers showed up. They had been trying to get to Martins Bay Hut and been stopped by the water at Jerusalem Creek. Unfortunately, they weren’t on the guest list and as the rain had stopped and the danger had passed, they were told to head back to Hokuri Hut or wait for the water to drop. We were eating cheese and drinking wine while they walked back in the wet to somewhere else. Going guided seemed like a really good idea as we watch them disappear into the early evening air.

Early-ish the next day I was up in anticipation of our trip’s dramatic last act. To get from Martins Bay to the closest road at Piopiotahi / Milford Sound we would be hopping into a helicopter. The team was excited about the mission’s grand finale.

It took two choppers to get us back to Milford and I had the pleasure of the front seat in the second machine. We flew close to the coast and at one stage we almost flew straight into a flock of seagulls, twice! Hearing a chopper pilot abruptly stop talking mid-sentence and swearing is something that gets the heart racing and holding on while the machine took evasive action left everyone’s fingers gripped on their seats with the impression squashed into the foam. Our two dramatic days hiking in heavy rain was matched by a twenty-minute flight featuring some aerobatics which are probably not part of the normal flight plan!

What a mish! It was safe to say that going guided was an excellent way to see Whakatipu Ka Tuka / the Hollyford Valley. Our guides were great and the lodge staff legends. With their help we navigated the Hollyford Track during a storm which produced 430ml of rain in less than 20 hours! So, not only did we hike / swim amongst some of the finest scenery on the planet, but we also leant a lot about the area and everything that grows and lives in it, and most importantly survived to tell the epic tale. I highly recommend you take on the Hollyford with a guide and the option of staying at a lodge each night (if it is within your budget). Since this mish, whenever possible I go guided, very important during my missions to Nepal. A guide going guided might sound strange, but I can assure you that going guided made myself and my parents and their friends’ mish down the Whakatipu Ka Tuka an experience for the ages!

Stirling Falls (Piopiotahi Milford Sound)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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