Plans were hatched over a few beers at the Dux. Matt and I were quite keen for a longer mission. Kirstie was about to leave New Zealand and would like to get out on one last tramp, Becky was also keen for a trip - but ideally only a few days out. Fiordland was considered, but Nelson Lakes was deemed to likely have better weather. Pouring over guide books and online route descriptions told us that the route from Saint Arnaud to Lewis Pass was usually only attempted in summer, but shouldn't pose too great a problem in winter. I was talking to my brother, as one is bound to do occasionally and I determined that he was also on holiday, albeit in Te Anau, he didn't take much convincing to drive for 8 hours up to Christchurch and join us for the next 10 days up in Nelson Lakes.
|How could we go past Lake Rotoroa without some inner reflection?|
|Matt still has the energy for acrobatics at sunset on the wharf by Sabine Hut.|
|Leaving the shelter and heading for the tops!|
|Winter wonderland of Lake Angelus Hut|
|On the summit of Mount Angelus|
Returning along Robert Ridge was a pleasant experience, we had the company of an older gentlemen who kept taking videos of us! For once returning to civilization after a tramp was only a temporary measure; we got a pie and had an ice cream. At this point the party split ways, Becky and Kristie departing back to Christchurch, Kirstie was actually flying back to England the next day! Saying goodbye to a friend was as hard as ever - it will probably be years before I see her again. Still Neville, Matt and I had a frantic time repacking our packs for the week+ long mission ahead of us. We were leaving immediately so the girls could shuttle my car, Big Brown, south to Lewis Pass. After stuffing more than we each thought could fit into a pack, we discovered more and more gear that must be taken - the tent was almost overlooked and was added in as an afterthought!
|Heading up the Travers Valley|
On the way up to Blue Lake I was tramping along behind Matt, I was watching him struggle slightly with his shovel. He had the rather long device mounted horizontally to the bottom of his pack, causing great difficulty in navigating around dense patches of trees. I bid my time, enjoying the entertainment before pointing out that the shovel unscrews in the middle and would even fit inside his pack if he so desired.
|Navigating around the bluffs on the side of Lake Constance|
|Neville contemplates putting gloves on.|
|Down one side and back up the other. Neville taking the final steps to Thompson Pass.|
|Neville and Matt skirting around the rocks from Thompson Pass|
|Heading towards the (wrong) pass at dusk|
|Neville is pleased to reach the real Upper D'Urville Pass|
|Chilled water anyone?|
|Matt using my pliers to untie frozen laces. Makes me feel slightly better about having my boots inside my sleeping bag with me.|
|"I want to die here. Not right now, but one day" - Matt at our stopping point near Three Tarn Pass|
|The final route for the second part of our journey.|
We covered ground faster than anticipated, and we actually ended up finishing two days earlier than expected. Six alpine passes down, time to head to the hot pools at Sylvia flats for a long soak with a beer - I swear Beer has never tasted better!