The Hidden Serpent (Part One) – Serpent Back Track

“On a Mish” #397 The Hidden Serpent (Part One). Serpent Back Track. Lake Manapouri. Fiordland National Park. 14.3.2024. At times I have often wished that the fridge door on the Fiordland Navigator had just broken my arm of leg. At least that way the recovery would have been much straighter forward and easier for doctors to deal with. But instead, I have had a very rocky road to recovery to travel down, and the experience has been like hiking a track into the unknown. After a mish on the Post Office Point Track, I saw an unmarked mystery track heading into the forest near the southeast end of Lake Manapouri, little did I know that my mission on this track would be like my recovery journey. Tough, with know idea about how long it would take to reach the end…

It is not often that I will venture into Fiordland National Park on an unknown journey, especially with my hip and back being the way that it is. In a place so rugged and remote it is best to know where you are and where you are going t all times. However, thanks to living in Te Anau, the national park is only a stone throw away and, on this mish, I knew I would always be close to civilisation. With that said you can be a few metres from a track in Fiordland and be completely lost.

My plan was to head to the Supply Bay Road and park near the start of the Post Office Point Track. The Post Office Point Track and (as I would find out) the mystery track has been cut and marked by members of the Manapouri and Te Anau community. The tracks are much more like the tracks found into truly wild parts of New Zealand’s biggest national park, and even a short distance can take longer than expected.

Thinking I would be away for around an hour or so I grabbed my gear and drove the short distance to Supply Bay Road. The day was dull and drizzly, so a trek amongst the trees was the best thing to do. I was full of intrigue and interest in where this track was going to take me. It had been a while since I had been on a completely new track, and it was so close to where I live. Fiordland is a place of many hidden treasures.

A very well trampled track took me into an open forest with very large beech trees. It didn’t take long before the road to Supply Bay was an after thought and I was deep in a Fiordland Forest. The many greens of the ferns and mosses were complemented by the browns of the bark on the trees, and in places there was splashes of white lichen. My eyes were pleased with the surroundings, and not knowing exactly where I was going kept my excitement levels high.

At first, I though the track would take me to an obvious clearing about a kilometre and a half from the road. However, after about forty minutes or so I checked my GPS, and I was hiking beyond the clearing. I arrived at the Upper Waiau River and began to follow it for a while. I worked out that the track was a connection between Supply Bay Road and a gravel road near Boulder Reach.

I decided that I must have solved the mystery of where the track went until I came across a junction. I had the option of heading back the way I came of seeing where the new track went. I took the latter and began to follow another mysterious track which led to a handmade sign. An arrow pointed in the direction of where I had come from (Supply Bay Road), in the other direction was the Serpents Back Track…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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