Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 3: Iris Burn to Queenstown

Make sure to read Parts 1 & 2!

All the huts along the Kepler Track were stunning, but if I had to choose one for an extended stay – it would be Iris Burn. New Zealand is forever famous as the filming location for the Lord of the Rings movies, and I’m positive that if Middle Earth was real, the elves would be living in the very same valley as the Iris Burn hut. Flanked on all sides by temperate rainforest-ed mountains, we fell asleep in our bunks on the valley floor to the sound of water falling – from where we did not know exactly. It wasn’t until the next morning that we would discover the beauty of that place and it’s tall, slender waterfalls. Continue reading “Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 3: Iris Burn to Queenstown”

Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 2: Luxmore to Iris Burn

If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1 here!

It was only 7pm, but I was so exhausted from the day’s treck I definitely would have been in bed if it wasn’t for the Ranger program. There were around 50 of us in the hut that night, and we gathered in the common area to listen to the Ranger give us a run-down of tomorrow’s walk. We could hear the wind howling outside, but inside the wood stove was doing its job and keeping us all cozy. At 7 on the dot a sprightly, middle-aged man introduced himself as the ranger. We all quieted to listen. Continue reading “Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 2: Luxmore to Iris Burn”

Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 1: The Way to Luxmore Hut

I had been staring at the triangular wooden ceiling of our A-Frame cabin for nearly 20 minutes, listening to the wind howl and willing the pressure in my bladder to ease off so I could steal just a little more rest. This would be my last night sharing a room with only my husband for a little while. We were set to head off on the Kepler Track – one of New Zealand’s incredible great walks – in just a few hours’ time. And while we carried our tents on our last great walk on the Abel Tasman, this time we would be spending our nights in the huts, sleeping in dormitories of dozens. We were in the Fiordlands now, and the scene could not have been more different than the white sand beaches of the Abel Tasman. The weather was much harsher in this southern corner of the southern island, and the topography a lot more extreme. Our walk was to take us along steep mountain ridges unsuitable for camping – hence the huts. And so here I was, treasuring what very well might be my last snorer-less sleep for a few nights. Besides, it was a long, dark walk to the toilets. And if the howl of the wind was any indication, it did not sound warm outside. Continue reading “Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 1: The Way to Luxmore Hut”