South Island | Kepler Track – 01/02/15

Now that cookie-less January is upon us, I want to say “Happy New Year!” and that I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! I’m not usually one to make “New Year’s Resolutions”…it seems no one is any more. It’s all about goals and intentions on a smaller scale. For the past few years I’ve done a (relatively achievable) list for myself; a number of items for that year (i.e. 15 things for 2015). An excerpt from this year looks like this:

  1. Visit one new country;
  2. Visit two new states;
  3. Try a new hairstyle;
  4. Be able to do two consecutive pull-ups;
  5. Climb a V3 at the bouldering gym…

…you get the idea. Later this month, Jesse and I will check off number 1 with a trip to Australia, but in the meantime we’ve still been busy exploring New Zealand!

Our first week of 2015 was truly incredible. We’ve been efficient in the South Island and had a whirlwind itinerary for our recent road trip.

We left Christchurch on New Year’s Day and drove along the east coast, through Dunedin, and circling around the bottom of the island to the west coast, setting up camp at Lake Monowai. We found this sweet (free!) campsite just south of the lake and raced to set up the tent before it was dark. We then quickly hopped in and zipped the doors up tight before we were completely devoured by sandflies and mosquitoes (note: we were not fast enough. I have scars on my ankles from all the bites!).

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In the morning we explored the campsite a little, taking a short trail to the edge of the lake to see the view.

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On our walk we encountered the cutest family; the little boy with glasses was a pirate in search of Captain Hook, dinosaurs, and (bizarrely out of place), teddy bears. His name was Riley (it was meant to be!) and he wanted us on his team. On the way back up the trail, Jesse and I decided to have some fun so we hid behind some bushes and planned to jump out to scare him (only a little, though. Nothing too terrifying). We were certain he spotted us, so we prematurely jumped out with our sticks and the poor boy froze in his hiking boots, totally petrified, and yelled “I’m a good guy!”! We felt bad because he clearly didn’t see us after all! After he realized it was just us, he was relieved, but we may have scarred him for life. Whoops!

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We packed up the tent and drove up to town, hoping to get in some kayaking on Lake Manapouri. We arrived and it was clear we were not going to be getting in any boats that day – it was so windy! This photo looks lovely, but there were definitely whitecaps later in the day!

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We ended up in Te Anau and found ourselves on the Kepler Track for a lovely 11 mile hike (with a little running, which I was pleased about). Kepler is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and also somewhat of a legendary running trail, so I was excited to check it off the list.

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The trail was beautifully green and lush and we had a view of Lake Te Anau for much of our section. Then we started to climb, as most Great Walks do! We only went up about 2,000 ft, but that was plenty for me and my sore knee. Didn’t want to overdo it on day 1.

We found a campsite for that evening on Lake Te Anau, though it was not free this time. It was incredibly blustery and even though our tent was in a slightly more sheltered spot, I couldn’t sleep all night because I was having anxiety that a tree would fall on our tent, crushing my legs and then I’d really never be able to run again. It was a very specific paranoia that Jesse clearly didn’t share. But yes, it was that windy.

Next up: Routeburn Track!

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