“On a Mish” #307 Same Old New. Glade Wharf. Lake Te Anau. Fiordland National Park. 17.11.2021. To look out the window of your workplace at the beauty that many people crave to see makes you feel rather special. Not too many people get to work in one of the pristine environments on the planet, and those who do are some of the luckiest people alive! A job in New Zealand tourism is never going to get you a mansion with a pool, but it will give you some of the best job satisfaction.
It was many summers ago that I finished guiding with Ultimate Hikes on the Milford Track. After six seasons on not only the Milford Track, but also the Routeburn and Greenstone tracks, it was time for a change. Many years would go by before I returned to one of the finest walks in the world. You never forget the scenery of the area, and world class is almost an understatement when it comes to the jaw-dropping location that is the Milford Track. After a very slow hip recovery I managed to get back into work, but it would be a slow process. Not wanting to reinjure my hip, I (and the powers that be at RealNZ) have taken baby steps when it comes to getting back into work. Now over six months into the job, it was time to add another feather to my bow in the form of training on the Fiordland Express, the Milford Track Ferry. Not only was I looking forward to more upskilling in the job, but I would also get a chance to head back to the top of Lake Te Anau and the start of the world famous Milford Track. The stage was set and I was very excited.
With fresh snow on the hills and a chill in the air, we set off from Te Anau inbound for the wharf at Te Anau Downs. With the fresh snow it was safe to say the views were going to be insanely good! After readying the vessel we started to load the lucky few hiking the track that day and then set sail. Steaming north we dove head first deeper into Fiordland, and further away from civilization. The journey up the lake is almost like a drum roll building up to the wharf and the start of the track. The further north you travel, the bigger the mountains become. It kinda feels like you are shrinking as the imposing peaks close in all around the boat. Even though I hadn’t been up this end of the lake for a few years, I never forgot the absurd beauty of the area. Even before beginning the hike you can sense the specialness of this very dramatic mountainous area. As soon as Glade Wharf is in view you can feel the excitement in the boat beginning to boil and the guests can’t wait to put boots on track. Parked up and tied up, it is now time to disappear into the Clinton Valley en route to the track’s first DoC Hut. If I was only doing this once I would feel much more jealous, but I knew that from now on I would be back time and time again, and I was stoked to be given this opportunity. It is great to be back at the same old place, but this time I was doing something new!