Taking Kea of Myself – Grebe Valley Camp

“On a Mish” #278 Taking Kea of Myself. Grebe Valley. Fiordland National Park. 15.2.2020. By mid February I was feeling a little bit grumpy. It had been over a month since my accident on the Fiordland Navigator and I went from sailing the high seas to angry as can be, since that fridge door brought me to my knees. Looking back now it is weird to think that my problems would only be a minor blip on the radar compared to what was about to happen all around the world. I had gone a long time without any contact with the wilderness, and even though it hurt to move I was still getting the cravings to go on some sort of adventure…

I am very lucky to call Te Anau home, for from my house I can look up at Mt Luxmore(1472m), and also some of the peaks in the Murchison Mountains. Good yes, but not like having Fiordland under your feet. To fulfil the cravings and hopefully cheer me up a bit I decided to go where I have gone many times to put a smile on my face, the Borland Road. Using the shopping trolley as a walking frame, I limped my way around the supermarket and gathered as much comfort food as I could carry then headed south. The drive between Te Anau and Manapouri is an absolute classic and I think one of New Zealand’s best roads. It was good to see the sights again, and after a month away the beauty of the place seemed to have somehow increased slightly. Once again looking back now it is strange to think of what was going to happen less than a month from that point. Manapouri was still buzzing with tourists blissfully unaware that Aotearoa was once again going to become an isolated island in the South Pacific. I got onto the gravel of the Borland Road and some of my troubles disappeared like the trail of dust my car was kicking up. Not being able to walk meant the trip was to a car camping site, and it certainly felt like something different from my normal camping spots. I drove over the Borland Saddle(990m) and into the Grebe Valley. From here I poked and prodded into all the side roads / tracks that lead to the bases of the many power pylons in the valley. I struck gold when I came across a spot with a campsite already set up, and a half-drum for a fireplace. Now feeling much better about things, I slowly limped around and collected firewood. It was so good to be smelling the sweet air of Fiordland again, and being amongst the mountains really reminded me how much I need the wilderness and freedom only found in the mountains for my mental well being. That night I gorged on plenty of tasty terrible food, and with a belly full of junk I drifted off to sleep surrounded by my happy place.

Very early-ish the next morning I was up, with the plan to watch the sunrise from the top of the Borland Saddle. In complete darkness I drove up the gravel zigzags to the top of the saddle, then I got my camp chair out and got ready for the show. Low cloud in the valley turned up the amazing factor, and the sun signaled its arrival with shades of pink and red. I am a massive fan of getting up early to watch the 15 minute daily show (some shows are better than others!) that is a sunrise. The area slowly revealed itself, and as it did I was joined by two juvenile Kea. The friendly little fellows came over to my breakfast spot and then began to inspect every inch of my car. Almost fearless, I could get to within a foot of the birds before they would scamper off. Now with not only a taste of the mountains but also an encounter with the mountains’ most interesting resident, I began the drive home. Driving home I felt a lot better, and it really did reinforce my need for a wilderness escape as often as possible. Now a little bit more relaxed I could return home, and back to the couch. The next adventure in 2020 was going to be one like no other that I had experienced before, and the whole world was going to be involved in this less than enjoyable mish…

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New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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