Swimming The Hollyford Track (Part One) – Hollyford Track Guided Walk

“A Mish a Day” #186 The Hollyford Track – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 25.1.2016. For those lucky enough to experience true Fiordland rain, I am sure it is an experience that will never be forgotten. And I am equally sure that, like me, you have had trouble doing the rain justice when explaining it to friends and family afterwards. Fiordland is the home of the waterproof explorer, or in our case it was the home of the soaking wet hikers. After nearly ten years working as a hiking guide this was my first trip as a client, and in true Marky fashion the trip was far from your normal wander down the Hollyford Track to the coast at Martins Bay…

The idea of hiking the Hollyford Track came from my parents and their friends. Over time the group of six had ticked off all the other guided hikes in Fiordland, and now it was time to head west to Martins Bay while enjoying all that comes with a Hollyford Track Guided Walk. We started our trip in a rainy Te Anau, and joined the other hikers who had traveled from Queenstown with our two guides, and very vocal driver. The hiking world in Aotearoa is a small one, and I knew our Coach Driver Dion, and Guide Mush well from my time working / living / wasting income in Queenstown while guiding for Ultimate Hikes. We were informed that we might see some heavy rain (a rather large understatement) on our journey down the Hollyford Valley. As we drove into the Eglington Valley and entered Fiordland National Park the coach’s windscreen wipers went to work. The rain had paused briefly as we unloaded at the end of the Hollyford Road, and photos were taken of the unsuspecting team of flooded track swimmers. The deep rumble of Hidden Falls was heard and felt far before being seen, and the recent rain top up had made the falls a visual spectacle of the power of water. Our view of the mighty Darran Mountains was obscured by thick storm clouds, then the rain turned from heavy to our first dose of proper ‘Fiordland Rain’… a rain that will soak through any so-called ‘Waterproof’ material within minutes. We finished the damp hike, and enjoyed the fantastic food and wonderful hospitality at Pyke Lodge. Also during the evening we got to feed the local Tuna / Long Finned Eels, who slithered their way out of the river to have a snack. The rain continued to test the strength of the roof of the lodge as we enjoyed the warmth, excellent food and comfortable accommodation.

Eddy the Eel

The next day we woke early-ish to see that not only had the rain not eased at all during the night, but we were starting to see the first signs of flooding with Wāwāhi Waka / Lake Alabaster well above full capacity. We were supposed to visit the DoC hut on the edge of the lake, but as I followed the track in front of the group, I was turned back by deep water up to my chest. Looking back at the group it seemed they weren’t as enthusiastic about hiking through the waist deep as me! To get to the drowned boat wharf for our trip across Whakatipu Waitai/Lake McKerrow, we had to wade through eel-infested water and we still had to put up with a member of our team determined to let the rain ruin his day / Hollyford Track adventure. The blast across the lake was epic, and even though we couldn’t see the bigger peaks in the area, the clouds swirling in and out of each side of the valley made for mythical misty views only possible in Fiordland on a rainy day. With thick droplets hitting our faces we pushed on into the storm wondering what excitement was waiting for us around the next corner…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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