straight after Richmond, we smashed on into Nelson lakes National park, February 19th to 23th.
Richmond ranges ended in St Arnaud, a small touristy town between Richmond ranges and Nelson lakes NP. We arrived at lunch, burger and beer went down with no resistance. Rest, laundry and a pizza later, we set out for the magnificent Nelson lakes NP. Everybody says it's so beautiful, so the question was if it should prove to be as amazing as we've been told. Spoiler alert, yes..
Sunny with some clouds and no wind for four and a half day. Pretty epic! Richmond ranges was steep and exhausting. The two biggest climbs we did was Traverse saddle (1768m) and Waiau pass (almost 1900m). Worth it!
On the way to Waiau pass, we walked by the blue lake and Lake Constance. Blue lake contains (amongst) the clearest water in the world. Horizontal vision 70-80 meters. As clear as it can get!
Lake Constance was allowed to swim in so we set out to do that, twice. First boulder hopping down probably 500 meters to the shore, just to find that the track an hour later went down to the lakeside without needing to boulder hop. Might as well take another dip before climbing 800 vertical meters up to the pass.
After the pass we strodeled down to a river valley and decided to hike under the stars for a while. Beautiful stars in NZ! Milky Way is apparently very visible here.
That day we also met Renee, a German hiker with a somewhat exaggerated safety thinking.
Arriving 10 minutes after dark to blue lake hut, he asked what happened to us, since no man would want to hike in the dark. "Zat iz not zafe".
We started late as usual and caught up to him after Waiau pass. He then tried to advice Samuel to take "ze zafer route up ze river bed". It was 1,5 meters high..
The day after our night hike he caught up to us after a 3 hour lunch containing yoga, napping and talking to the first swede i met on trail, he said to us: "how could you cross ze rivers in ze dark?! Zat iz not zafe!". I actually didn't understand him at first because when he got upset, his German accent got way worse and made it almost impossible to understand. Had to ask again.. The rivers were max ankle height and not swift at all. Saw an eel as well. Pretty happy we did that. Summary, safety in the backcountry is essential, but we all have our own limits. Renee became "Zafe" to us. Good trail name.
We also did our biggest day here, 39 km. Hurting feet and sore bodies. Samuel tucked himself into his sleeping bag and forgot to turn off his head torch. He was on the brink of crying so I turned it off for him before I went to bed. He slept with it on his head.