Wild Workplace (Part One) – The Routeburn Track

“On a Mish” #59 Wild Workplace – Part One. The Routeburn Track. Fiordland National Park / Mt Aspiring National Park. 19.3.2009. To say getting a job as a guide on the Routeburn Track was a game changer is a huge understatement. I went from dreading Monday mornings, to dreaming about working on my days off. To be paid to do something that people travel from all over the world to do is rather special and it makes you jump out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button four more times. I went from building cabinets in a warehouse to blowing minds (mine included) on one of the most iconic tracks in all of Aotearoa…

The change in scenery was ‘thanks’ to me injuring my back and spending some time on the sideline, and then getting the option of either going back to the boring normal or taking a big step (literally) in a completely different direction. A big thanks for the confidence to completely change my life around goes to my parents, so I was very excited to show them my new workplace during my first season as a guide, and I went on the trip as a customer knowing how much of a distraction the fam were going to be! Also this would be Jeremy’s second time hiking the track, as he walked the Routeburn Track back in the seventies as a teenager and he talked fondly of his mish as a kid. Speaking of kids, joining them was my sister and her new fella, who would become part of our whanau a couple of years later. The stage was set for adventure and I was extra excited to head to work that day. We met in Queenstown on a grey day, and as we gathered our gear and got to know the rest of the guided team, we were informed that the rain jacket was going to be put into use. As we travelled west the wet began to tap the buses windscreen as if teasing us before our elevatable soaking at the hands of the weather gods. Te Whanau was lucky to have an elite team of guides and they did their best to remind people that the weather wasn’t going to spoil anyone’s adventure on the Routeburn Track.

Lake Harris as seen on a guide training trip

We had our first taste of liquid sunshine after getting dropped off at the Divide, and from there it was time to show my parents that their effort and guidance had paid off big time. The forest provided shelter as well climbed our way towards the Key Summit turn-off, and once there we bid farewell to the shelter of the trees and the dryness of our clothing. The brave who dared to challenge the weather gods got a good taste of Fiordland rain as we all crawled our way around the Key Summit Track. Even though it was raining we still got some views of the mighty Darran Mountains as they got pelted with water from above. After getting amongst the mountains at Key Summit we descended down to Howden Hut(RIP), and had some lunch with a well earned hot cup of tea provided by the guides. The raindrops bouncing off the building’s roof kept some of the party inside for as long as they possibly could before they faced the inevitable soaking awaiting them outside. Being wet is temporary and memories last forever. So with that in mind Te Whanau stepped out into Fiordland and began to make some more epic Routeburn Track memories that we would all be talking about many years later…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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