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

“On a Mish” #186 Going Guided (Part Four). Whakatipu Ka Tuka / The Hollyford Track. Fiordland National Park. 26.1.2016. Thanks to the fact that I worked on both the Routeburn and Milford Tracks I get asked which one is the better of the two. In a way it is like comparing to gold nuggets that weigh the same. Both are outstanding adventures however, I did spilt the two by saying that the Routeburn Track is a fantastic hike while the Milford is an incredible journey. And just like the Milford Track, the Hollyford Track is one which is quite enjoyable if you go guided instead of being independent…

That fact that boats are needed at either end of the Milford Track make it more than just a hike (no disrespect to the mighty Routeburn Track), and the Hollyford is the same. We used a jetboat to get us to Jamestown from Pyke Lodge. To get to this spot without a boat you need to hike the ‘Demon Trail’ and with the weather the way it was that would have been impossible. After hearing all of the sad facts about Jamestown we began I hike to a little surprise in the bush.

I know from experience that it is hard to hold a crowd on a rainy day, but Mush knew her stuff and even though it was pouring with rain, she wasn’t going to shortchange us on our trip, and we got to know more about the beautiful Fiordland Forest as we made our way to the lunch spot. I places I jump in (literally) to help get people through flooded streams. We people need help the guide in me always answers the call.

Eventually we swam our way to the surprising expedition tent which is set up for lunch on day two. While eating lunch the group started to realise that this wasn’t a normal storm, and the amount of rain was right up there with the most that our guide Mush had ever seen.

Hiking the Beaches of Martins Bay

After lunch we were meant to hike out to Martins Bay Hut and see the seal colony however, upon reaching a spot known as Jerusalem Creek we couldn’t go any further. Normally there is little to no water in this area but for us there was a raging torrent. It was the most water Mush had ever seen at this location and her experience told her that we would be crossing the creek. Luckily, we could call upon the services of the Jetboat, and after a wet wander down the Martins Bay Airstrip (which was shin to knee deep in water in places) we were back in the boat heading for the wild west coast.

Martins Bay is a very special place with a true remote feeling to it. Not only is there stunning views of the rugged Fiordland coastline, but there is also a seal colony that is only a short hike for the hut. Out at the seal colony the weather finally eased, and we were just left with a brisk breeze. As I gazed around at the remoteness I thought of the difference between the early Māori and first European explorers that visited and lived here. Their experience would have been near-on the opposite of the luxurious hike we were having. However, back then there wasn’t the option of going guided…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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