Thursday, February 28, 2008

Milford Track

Due to an extremely quick-mouse-clicking travelmate, we were able to score 2 last-minute spots on the Milford Track (usually booked ~6 months in advance, despite the cost ($120 to hike unguided for 4 days)) and had 3 days to drive from the top of the south island to the track. We went down the west coast, stopping at Greymouth (to stay at the Global Village, see this post) and Hokitika to look at some jade carvings, and Fox glacier for some hiking, through Wanaka, and then back up to Te Anau.

Back to the Milford Track. The track is super-restricted, you have to hike in a certain direction, have to take a boat to the start and from the finish (different locations), and MUST stay 1 night in each of 3 huts. Kinda odd, but interesting because you basically are hiking/living with 40 strangers all day and night for a short week. Met some neat people.

First things first: they have helicopter pads built on top of the bogs so they can fly rich people in. Lame.

Second things second: they have the craziest air strip I've ever seen in my life. Suggled in between two mountain (fjord) walls, with about 500 meters clearance on each side, and a 1000 meter tall wall at one end of the strip:

Third: Loo With A View. Not much to say about this toilet someone ploped on top of the 1000m pass. Just sit back and enjoy the view.

Fourth: These helicopter pilots are nuts. I like how this guy opened his door to keep the trees in view. This is routine, and you should see the speed at which they maneuver through the trees. I have seen some drop in 20 meter clearings to land (surrounded by tall trees).

Finally, they have some wicked waterfalls. Check out Sutherland Falls, the tallest in the country, dropping a full stream of water even in dry times a staggering 1,904 feet!

(I know, I've got to get my head out of the way for more of these shots...)

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