As usual Roger’s organization went like clockwork . Hannibal organizing his elephants to cross the Alps could have done with a Roger in his party!And our camp parents Neil and Gillian were superbly organized and caring and did a lot of the driving for the other parties- as well as keeping the peace on the home party front!
We stayed at the Manapouri Motels and Holiday park run by an elderly and charming lady. She was a bit stressed out by the floods of tourists – far too many in her opinion, stressing the infrastructure and spoiling her special place. It was a friendly place and views to die for. In the evenings we were captivated by the sunsets. We had a large cottage and a few cabins – the large place being the meeting place of the various parties on their returns. The views were fantastic over Lake Manapouri to the mountains – with a pub next door and a redundant church now a café bar just up the road. So we had all one could want for a happy nine days...
Day one dawned fine so we crossed by boat to Brod Bay on the Kepler track and our home group with the exception of Pete and Robin all got to the top and Neil had a pretty good wander round too. Although it’s a busy track up to Luxmore hut it really is exceptional – views through the flowering rata to Mt Titiroa and the magnificent view from Luxmore hut over the lake. I blew a kiss to the takahe in the Murchisons – the original family home of the ones I work round on Motutapu island.
All praise to Lindsay who each trip goes from strength to strength after her horrendous accident – a real pleasure to get you to Luxmore, Lindsay.
Day two looked good so we headed off to the Divide and Key Summit via the Mirror lakes. The Routeburn has its own climate and today, though fine in Te Anau, it was rain and low cloud up there. I pointed out where the views would have been if there were any and we used our imagination. The plan was to lunch at Howden hut – unfortunately a large group from Ultimate Hikes filled the deck so we just ate our soggy sandwiches and headed back. The trees were magnificent – lots of tree fuchsia with their peely bark and dripping lichen over the track.
For the rest of our time in Manapouri we did some local walks, one the other end of the Kepler to Moturau Hut through beautiful dappled beech forest. Walks included up to the Control gates and on to Rainbow reach and some did a circular track on Hope arm. The special treat day for some of us was a trip to Doubtful sound with Go Orange – amazing scenery and great commentary- a full day out. Our last big day out was to Lake Marian on the Hollyford road – reasonably challenging and not embarked on by all of us. The waterfalls in the lower part were thunderously magnificent and the rooty climb to the lake a good work out- lunch at the Lake then back. This was a special place for me to visit as I last did it 51 years ago on arrival in New Zealand when I was working in Invercargill. On that occasion the students from James Hargest swam in the lake as avalanches drifted down. A hardy bunch – this time there was much less snow and no swimmers from our party.
I have to admit to being a bit slower, but didn’t really find it any harder! Gary tried to earn a beer by suggesting I must have been two and a half years old when I first did it. Sadly his ploy didn’t work .– Gary, with advancing years comes wisdom and canniness – he didn’t get his beer.
Our party consisted of Neil and Gillian, Phil and the legendary Lindsay (the cottage group) And Vivian, Fisher, Pat , Robin and Pete. Thanks guys for the company and all the laughs. Special thanks to Gill and Neil who did so much driving to pick up the other parties, and of course to Roger, who must also be of the legendary variety!