Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Rainbow Reach

After returning from Key Summit the day was all but spent and we rested one more time at one of the many DOC camping grounds between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

The next day brought us back to Te Anau. But before beginning our long journey back to Auckland, we wanted to do some more hiking in Fiordland. So this time we passed Te Anau due south and headed for a day walk called Rainbow Reach.

Keppler Track (Great Walk)

Rainbow Reach is one station among the Kepler Track, another of New Zealand's famous Great Walks. The Kepler Track, a 60 kilometre circular track, traverses through the spectacular scenery in Fiordland National Park.

The track starts a short drive away from Te Anau by crossing a swing bridge next to the Te Anau control gates und traverses in a circle back to the bridge. There are camping grounds on the track, but the harsh top of the mountain allows no camping, so even if you carry a tent, you'd probably need a combination of booking huts and camp sites.

Again we lacked the time of doing the complete Great Walk, but also didn't want to miss it entirely, so we compromised for a day walk on the Keppler Track:

Rainbow Reach

So of we went to do the Rainbow Reach trail. It starts after the swing bridge marking the beginning of the Keppler Track. It takes around 3h 30 min return.

The track started with a real surprise for us. See the picture below for a sign we passed right after the swing bridge. We didn't heed to much attention to it. Foolish we were. Naive. Stupid and careless. Because only half a minute passed the sign a native falcon stared at us from his
nearby nest. As we got closer he started in the air and came roaring down on us. Fucking Shit! We started running like hell and barely escaped the enraged falcon warrior. Phew.

the sign should be red with skulls on it
On our way back we heeded the advice of the sign and used big sticks as defence. Holding them above our head. Damn. In New Zealand you should follow the advice of signs, as innocent as they might look.

It then mostly took us through wonderful forest. It's a relaxing well trodden track through the forest that grants some nice views on the nearby river Waiau.

the river flowing through the forest
In  fact the forest is not only spectacular to view, but also to hear. Yes, the trees talked to us. Just like the Ents in Lord of the Rings. No we were not imagining things. They had their own language sounding like creaking old cupboards or opening wooden doors. But the sounds were much to frequent and well aligned to be mere coincidence. Also rattling twigs and leafs added to the atmosphere, though there was next to no wind.

well trodden forest path
We decided the trees were probably talking about us. Wondering what strange creatures are wandering next to their feet. Luckily they saw no threat in us and let us pass by unhindered. Still it was a magical moment on our travels.

talking trees
is that what happens to enemies of the forest?

The track further lead us to a bog. A swamp like region very important for the local flora. A sign explained how a bog can store lots of water that both help animals and plants in times of drought, as well as in times of flood, since it can swallow the excess water to a great extent.
Alas humans always regarded bogs and swamps as a nuisance: hard to cross and hard to use for agriculture or animal herding. And thus in most cases dried them out, destroying the regions natural defences against disasters. This is a big reason for the extent in which natural disasters can cause havoc to most landscapes nowadays.

a bog
After the interesting bog the track took us to a quiet forest lake, where we made a short break.

forest lake
Finally we reached the shores of the huge Lake Manapouri, where the day walk ends. We met some old geezer telling stories and ate our share of food that we carried with us. Then we enjoyed the sun over the lake and started heading back to our car.

Lake Manapouri

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