Routeburn Track a Spectacle of Jaw-Dropping Scenery
For the ultimate adventure the Wall Street Journal recommends escaping into the “supersize spectacle” of one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks for a tramp along the 32-km Routeburn Track.
Journal correspondent Robin Kawakami (pictured) and her husband travel to the South Island.
“New Zealand takes hiking — or “tramping,” as the Kiwis call it — very seriously,” Kawakami writes. “The country has nine designated ‘Great Walks,’ which pass through some of its most scenic areas and are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). DOC also maintains more than 14,000km of trails and a network of more than 950 basic accommodations for trampers to spend the night.
“Each year, hikers spend days at a time on New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks.’ The treks offer gorgeous vistas of snow-capped peaks, crater lakes, and babbling brooks with water so clean, you can drink it.
“As we were only attempting one hike in New Zealand, we opted for diversity over popularity. The Routeburn Track, which passes through both Fiordland and Mount Aspiring national parks in the country’s Southern Alps, offers a little bit of everything: glacier-carved valleys; beech forests; still, glacial lakes; rushing streams and waterfalls; and craggy slopes that get an occasional dusting of snow.
“Though space restrictions at the DOC huts help keep the number of hikers in check, and we only occasionally saw others on the trail, we were joined by an Australian hiker at the top. ‘Will you take my photo?’ he asked. ‘Otherwise no one’s going to believe this.’
“I felt small under the endless sky. Mountains stretched to the horizon, with the shifting light dappling their slopes in gold, brown and green. And though we hiked on for miles more that day, I completely forgot about the weight of my pack.”
Original article by Robin Kawakami, The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2015.
Photo by David Lee.