More time on the Milford Road
Time flies when you’re having fun and we had just two days left with Angie before she had to be in Queenstown to catch her coach to Dunedin.
The Routeburn Track starts at the Divide, as it is a multi day hike it was no good to us, but there is a spur off to Key Summit and this is where we headed. Franco was well ahead, when Angie and I heard what sounded like a parrot and at first we thought it was another kea. The bird was in the tree above us eating berries and drinking nectar from the ‘flax’ flowers. As it got closer, we recognised it as a New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis). Like the kea, it wasn’t afraid of humans but it didn’t seek us out and continued munching away.
The walk was just a few hours long and soon we were at the summit. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected from a name like ‘Key Summit’, no jagged peak, instead a fairly level area with damp patches. Franco found sundew (carnivorous plant), they were much smaller than the Welsh variety, in fact they were so small it was hard to distinguish them with the naked eye.
Kath and Franco at Key Summit
On a leaflet, we’d read about the Humbolt Waterfall. It is at the end of the gravel Lower Hollyford Road (a turn off the Milford Road), so after Key Summit, that’s where we headed. We were hoping to stop in a lay-by for lunch but passing vehicles were raising a lot of dust and the only one a little back from the road (so not so dusty) was covered in human excrement. In the land of the public loo, there really is no excuse. We gave up looking and continued down the road to the start of the walk, where we found a shelter.
Franco and Angie eating lunch in the shelter
New Zealand ‘robin’ (Petroica australis) hoping for some scraps
The short walk through beech forest was pleasant and the waterfall impressive. The way it had created ‘cups’ reminded us of a waterfall we had seen in Chile. We remained until the sandflies drove us away.
On the way back we stopped at the small museum in Hollyford. It was full of interesting bits and bobs and pieces that were supposedly funny. We didn’t get it, either they were local ‘in-jokes’ or Kiwis have a very different sense of humour to us Brits.
For our last day together, we chose what was supposed to be a three hour ‘there and back’ walk as we had a long drive to Queenstown. As it turned out the path to Lake Marian was the roughest path we had been on so far and it took us considerably longer than the stated time. It started off across a swing bridge, then went up the side of some impressive rapids along a boardwalk. At that point everyone else turned back and we had the path to ourselves.
Angie walking through the dense woodland
Whenever the wood opened up giving views of the sheer rock faces, I expected to see birds of prey circling above. They were none, but in the woods, every time I stopped, there was a tiny bird fluttering from branch to branch. These were rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris), the smallest bird in New Zealand.
During the past ten days we had been very lucky with the weather, the few times it had rained, we had been driving and once again we got back to Jumbo dry. As we set off in the van, it started to rain. In Queenstown, we booked into one of the very expensive and busy campsites and wandered into town where Angie treated us to a delicious dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The streets were full of young tourists drinking or returning to campsites with crates of beer. We’d had enough of bright city lights, we wouldn’t be staying long.