Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 5 - 12: Milford Track and Queenstown

We spent a wonderful week with Allison's parents -- five days on the Milford Track with a day in Queenstown on either end.  Self proclaimed as "one of the best walks in the world", the Milford Track had a lot of expectations to live up to.... It meet and exceeded all of them for us.  Our first day on the track was mostly a transportation day from Queenstown through Te Anu and into the first hut with only a mile of walking.  The real trek began on Day Two.  10 miles through a beautiful valley along the Clinton River.  There was a swimming hole a few miles from the end of our day and we started a trend braving the frigid waters... Followed first by Yutaki, who according to our guide was the first of the many Japanese travellers on the track she'd seen go for a swim all season.  Not to be outdone by his kids or the Japenese, Dad quickly joined in as well.

Around 4 pm we arrived at Pompolona, our second of three lodges along the track.  A quick note on our trip which was organized through Ultimate Hikes.  There are two options for doing the track -- independent hikers carry their own food and bedding, sleeping in basic huts along the way (how we would be living without Mom and Dad as travelling companions :).  We were on the guided version which meant luxury huts complete with showers, 3 course dinners and wine at the end of the day.  Thanks Mom and Dad!! It was an amazingly organized trip from start to finish --great guides and a wonderful group of travelling companions.  The most noteworthy was 84 year old Jack from Australia who jogged down the steep descents on our trail and closed down the bar around midnight on our last night.  An inspiration for us all to say the least.

Day two was the big one.... 9 miles over Mackinnon pass.  A challenging hike in good weather, we woke to torrential downpours that didn't let up until late in the evening.  The most magical parts of the Milford Track are all the waterfalls, many of which only show their true splendor when fed with a fresh rainfall.  And so our dread of a day trudging through the rain quickly changed to wonder and amazement as we witnessed some of the most beautiful and unique scenery any of us had ever seen.

Our third and final day of hiking led us through another beautiful valley and near many beautiful waterfalls.  The rain had cleared and so we had some bright sunny weather for our trek.  Upon finishing the track, we were shuttled by boat over to our lodge for the night which had the most stunning views of Mitre Peak in the Milford Sound.

The next morning we took a boat cruise through Milford Sound before getting on the bus back to Queenstown.  It was really an amazing journey..... I'm also very proud and impressed that my parents breezed through it without any trouble!  We hope that at age 60 we can be doing the same :)

Our two days in Queenstown on either end of the trip were also lots of fun.  Despite being 100% tourist gears, it's a very cute town set on Lake Wakatipu.  Before heading out to the Milford Track, Mom Nader and I went paragliding which was so cool.  You really feel like you're flying.  We had a great dinner with JP and Kaki Smith, friends of my Aunt Coco and Uncle Steve who were also here in Queenstown to do the Milford Track.  On our day after the track, I went bungy jumping (couldn't convince anyone else to join!) and we celebrated our last day with some wine tasting at a few local vineyards.  Thanks again Mom and Dad for a wonderful week.... We had so much fun!!

Oh, and Nader is making me post these videos.  If you watch the first one (I was a bit overserved the night before, thanks to JP!) please do watch the second one also.... I redeemed myself on the bungy :)

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