Going Guided (Part One). Whakatipu Ka Tuka / The Hollyford Track

“On a Mish” #186 Going Guided (Part One). Whakatipu Ka Tuka / The Hollyford Track. Fiordland National Park. 25.1.2016. There are thousands of kilometres of tramping tracks in New Zealand that are free for anyone to use. Some are easy and some are tough. Some lead to huts or bivouacs, and others just take you deep into the untamed wilderness. In a lot of the remote places the tracks lead to the weather is a big reason why the location remains rugged and wild. It is also why those who take on the challenge should have the required experience to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment. If you want to tackle the terrain but have doubts about your abilities, or maybe like the finer things in life while you trek through the wild, then I suggest you go guided and let someone else do all of the hard work, except the walking part…

Over the years I had the pleasure of not only guiding many people around some of New Zealand’s most pristine areas, but also guiding my family and some of their friends as well. Early on in my career I guided my Whanau around the Routeburn Track, and while the weather was a little rough, we still had an excellent time.

A few years later and my folks would be walking the Milford Track and by this time I had witnessed Fiordland rain on many occasions. So I was hoping that I could show them what it really looked like when the heavens open up. Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) the team was bathed in sunshine for the entire trip (a rare treat when hiking the famous Milford Track) and rain was the last thing on anyone’s minds. Their spell of ‘good’ luck with the weather was about to change when they hiked the Hollyford Track with their friends, and I had the good fortune of joining them on their guided experience.

As the day of our trip approached it looked like the stars would align and my olds would see some Fiordland rain. A front of heavy rain was tracking its way across the Tasman, and it would hit us around the day we were supposed to start. I didn’t think much of it as I had seen weather warnings came and go, and all that happened was a little bit of drizzle when compared to the 20ml plus per hour that is possible in this remote part of the word.

At the time of the trek, I was living in Tuatapere working on the Humpridge Track. The plan was to meet up in Te Anau and from there the Hollyford coach would take us to the start of the track. The skies above Te Anau were grey but the ground was dry and my rain jacket had remained stashed in my pack. I was starting to think this was another false alarm.

The bus rocked up with the rest of the team, and in the small word that is the New Zealand hiking community, of course I knew one of the guides and the coach driver well from working on the Routeburn Track. ‘Mush’ and Dan were our guides, Deon was the driver and conveyer of information for the hour or so it would take to get to the start of the track. The team was now complete and 12 people were on their way to Fiordland.

About twenty minutes into our drive, it began to rain, and the intensity increased the further west we travelled. As we entered Fiordland National Park, I got my first look at a major river (the Eglinton), and although it was brown and bubbling, it wasn’t exactly in record flood conditions, so I just expected a normal rainy day. My weather prediction was going to be wrong in all of the right ways…

Tuna / Edward the Eel

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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