The planning for this trip was super simple – despite it being the first real holiday Mark and I were taking together. The hardest part of the jigsaw was fitting in overnight stops on the way to and from the track, but we got all the bookings we wanted on exactly the dates we wanted.
We decided on walking dates because I wanted us to be back in Te Anau for New Years Eve, to enjoy a bit of a party, and relive my days of working in the town – probably the single best NY party I had been to was at the Moose. Sadly, instead we wound up sleeping through New Years…
Our route included two hard days – harder than we expected at least. The climb up to Luxmore hut was much harder than I expected, and the drop in to Iris Burn was hell on the knees with no walking poles to help as brakes.
Our accommodations were nice, with unique arrangements of rooms! The lounge / dining space at Luxmore felt a little cramped, and we were not thrilled at having to be upstairs at Iris Burn, but it was awesome to have flush toilets, and provided toilet paper.
The weather we got was incredibly changeable. From swelteringly hot getting up to Luxmore hut, to cool and breezy across the tops. Then it rained all our way out from Iris Burn Hut. We stopped at Moturau hut for lunch, where the fire was going and the sign on the door said “no wet clothes inside hut please” – how naked do you want me to get? Everything was wet through. On New Years morning, when we got up, the weather had cleared again and there was snow on the tops.
The hardest part of the tramp was the weight of gear we were carrying. We underestimated how hard things would be, and so carried heavy food (and a glass bottle of wine, which never got any lighter), along with an excess of gear. Part of me was glad I had accidentally swum my dSLR camera in Lake Wakatipu two days earlier, as that was a good couple of kg I didn’t have the option of carrying.
To get to and from the track, we used local track transfer companies. We left our car parked at Safer Parking in Te Anau, and the shuttle collected us from there, then returned us there. The shuttles were fantastic – yes, we had a super early start going to the track, but we saved 45 minutes walk around the lake to get to the control gates. By being picked up at Rainbow Reach, our final days walk was shortened by about 4 hours. We also got out over an hour early, and the shuttle company happily transferred our booking for free.
Its hard to calculate a total cost for this trip, as the travel there and back was part of a wider holiday – but the track itself was not massively expensive. Transfers, food, hut bookings, probably $200 between us. The extra nights accommodation, petrol, the night on Doubtful Sound etc etc added easily another $1,000 between us!