Continued from Take A Hike – Part 1
Day 3: The next morning (Friday) we awoke around 6am to the sound of fellow hikers packing up their gear for an early start on their last day. Also at this time, the gangs of juvenile Kea were coming down into the valley to antagonize the campers outside. When people asked why we got in so late, they were surprised that we had done the Brod Bay to Iris Burn section in one day. It’s not impossible to do, many people just don’t decide to tackle all that at once because of the climbing. Once we discussed it, we decided to stay a full day at the hut and rest, even though it added an extra day to our trip. After a satisfying breakfast, I relaxed out on the porch of the hut like a cat basking in the sun, while Michael busied himself with recharging our mini solar panels.
It was nice to have to whole place to ourselves once the other hikers had gone. We talked to the ranger, Rose, and found out more about the trail, Kea, and her job as a ranger. I’m glad we spent the day there because we were able to check out the Iris Burn Falls, and later in the day we spotted a rare Blue Duck, called Whio. Fun Fact: This rare breed of duck lives in fast moving rapids and uses the rubberized tip on their bills to scrape small insect larvae off of rocks.
The Iris Burn Hut is tucked away in a large tussock clearing surrounded by beech forest which made for a beautiful place for birdwatching. The sandflies were pretty thick here too, but we managed to keep most of them at bay with the eucalyptus and citronella oils we had brought. We paid the ranger for our last night which would be spent at the tent campsite. That evening we set up our tent in the camping area about 200m away from the hut among some old beech trees. The ranger told us we would be safer from the Kea in there than in the open grass. Kea can destroy a tent in a matter of minutes with their beaks and inquisitive nature. She also recommended we hang up our packs out of reach from Kea in the camp shelter nearby. We slept better that night which made it easier to get an early start for our last day.
Check out the video below that we took of a juvenile Kea trying his hardest to steal a cleaning cloth from the outdoor kitchen at Iris Burn Hut!
Day 4: We were up a daybreak and already the juvenile Kea gang was coming in for their daily barrage on the campers. They have this cackling-laugh call that is the warning for “Here we come to break your stuff and annoy the crap outta you!” Since I own a parrot back home, their mischievous behavior is nothing new. Michael went off to get our packs and I had the tent gear on the picnic table ready to be packed away, when two Kea approached from different angles like little feathered bullies. They hop in a comical way, but they don’t go very far if you try to shoo them away. Once they realized I wasn’t going to play, they hopped over to a neighboring tent and started pulling at the tent stakes and playing with the zippers until the campers inside woke up.
We were on the trail by 8:30am on our last day with 22.2km (13.8mi) to tackle before dinnertime. At this point, we were physically humbled from that hard second day hike but we were also excited and motivated to finish because dinner that night would be an authentic Italian pizza and gelato in Te Anau. The morning was misty and there were Kea flying over us as we walked past a massive landslip that had occurred in the 1980’s. It was a completely different world from the one we were in just 2 days before. Most of this last day was downhill after we managed to climb up and over a small gorge and followed the Iris Burn River to Lake Manapouri.
The last hut, Moturau Hut, sits facing the shore of Lake Manapouri and is a popular spot for day hikers to have picnic lunch who come the other direction. We stopped for a quick snack and to take our packs off. We pretty much felt they were the bane of our existence and could not wait to chuck them in the back of the car. But the car was still 90 minutes away and our feet were really starting to ache. So we ate some of our chocolate for a sugary boost and pushed on. Even though we were practically shuffling, at least we were moving in a forward direction. When we finally caught sight of the giant suspension bridge we had come across on that first day we felt immediate relief. It was 3:30pm on Saturday and we were finally finished. Our shoulders were bruised, our feet ached and had grown a few blisters, and we probably smelled terrible since we hadn’t had a proper shower in over 3 days, but we did it. The physicality of it was quite humbling, but the landscapes and wildlife sightings were totally worth it. Quite often on that last day I kept thinking about the main character in the book Wild. My mom gave me the book to read while on our trip and it’s about a young woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone with a pack so heavy, she nicknamed it “Monster.” It’s an excellent book, and it was my driving force on that last day because I knew that woman suffered way worse on her journey than we did on our measly 3 day hike.
Would I do it again? Meh, probably not. Once we were back in the car I told Michael that I would rather do another 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon than carry that pack again. We were too tired to take a picture of ourselves at the end, we were more focused on our pizza dinner and gelato! The drive home was cold and rainy, so we couldn’t have timed it any better. After a hot Epsom salt soak and a day or so of rest we felt like our normal selves.
Did you make it all the way to the end? Thanks for reading all the way to the end! We hope you enjoyed it and had a few laughs. We are planning on taking some short day trips in the future back, including going back to Te Anau to check out the Glowworm caves and do some horseback riding (finally!). For now, we are keeping busy with work, our ministry, saving up some extra cash, and preparing for the cold winter temperatures that are just around the corner.