Thursday, 2 December 2010

Rob Roy Valley

Routeburn Track

At this point we were thinking about daring our next Great Walk: the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Track is a fantastical walking track connecting Queenstown (over Glenorchy) with Te Anau and Milford Sound (over the Divide). Believe it or not up to this date, the walking track is the only direct connection between those places. The only other option is to take the over 300 km detour around the Southern Alps.

However exactly this fact in the end made us forfeit any plans to walk the track. Because of the missing car or train connection, the big problem is to get back to your car after completing the track. You basically have four options:
  1. Walk the whole track back.
  2. Hitchhike the whole distance of 333 km back. 
  3. Get someone to pick you up.
  4. There is a service, where someone will actually drive your car all the 333 km.
1 was too much effort and time. We didn't think of 2 at first, but hitchhiking is always a matter of luck, especially for that distance. 3 We knew no people around here. And the service 4 is damn expensive.

So in the end we decided not to walk the Routburn Track, as amazing as it would have been.

Rob Roy Valley

Our travel guide book said: "If you can't do the Routeburn Track go for the one day Rob Roy Valley Track. It is also through the Mt. Aspiring National Park and you get to see a lot of amazing things, including lots of native birds like Kea, mountains and valleys and an amazing glacier. Well if that doesn't sound like a good alternative, I don't know what does.

the sound Keas make really sounds like "keee-ah"
Thus of we went. Of course all our little trips where according to a great master plan (have you ever doubted that?). Therefore it is not surprising that Rob Roy Valley is only a little further down the road that passes South Rivendell. So conveniently we combined both and after visiting Rivendell went further to Rob Roy Valley.

The valley was astounding. It was really beautiful, especially in the later afternoon sunlight (and later the evening light, when we went back). All the lakes and rivers shimmered in the reflection of the sunlight. The meadow was in a fresh green and in the back you could see the amazing stature of the snow covered Alps.

Although it is called Rob Roy Valley Track, you actually continuously climb upwards. First through thick forests and at the end over barren grey dust and rocks (carved from the glacier). All the while along a ravenous torrent that comes down from the glacier into the valley. The trip is very strenuous but totally worth the effort. The view at the end and the glacier is amazing. We met some hikers on the way that told us they actually saw and heard part of the glacier break off and fall down the mountain. Wow.

ravenous torrent
When we reached the end of the path, we didn't know we reached the end of the path. We suspected it, because of the missing markers. However even after one hour of further walking (to the later suspected end of the track) there was still a trodden track on the ground that could be followed. It just got more and more steep and more and more difficult to follow. So that after 1 hour bilge rat made a halt. I, however, wanted to looked over one more mountain top and carried on for another 30 minutes. In the end the track got so slippery that bilge rat feared for my life. Little did she know, that in my previous life I was a mountain antelope, thus I had little problem, got my additional kick and then went back with her to enjoy the glacier and the valley with the light of a setting sun...

Rob Roy Glacier
setting sun

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