Monday, April 5, 2010

Photour - Episode Four - The Hump

Boardwalk and hills

Many moons ago, more than either of us would like to think, my big sister walked The Hump track. Back then it was several miles of bog and slog, basic DoC huts and if, like my sister you wanted to save yourself the walk out, you could risk your life by hitching back in a tiny fishing craft across rough seas. Not any more.

Thanks to the local community, today's Hump Ridge Track is beautifully boardwalked, there are comfortable lodges and if you just don't have the time to walk it all, you can hitch a helo ride to the top. I love tramping and mountain biking and there's a tiny sick part of me that enjoys the uphill part most but with our schedule, we took the helo option. I love helos. And by the grin on his dial, so did Jules.

Jules loves helicopters

Our plan for the afternoon called for us to pack light in Tuatapere, fly up to the top of the Hump Ridge Track, look around, take some snaps, then fly down to spend the night at the lodge at Port Craig. From there, we'd take a jet boat up the Wairaurahiri river to lake Hauroko, and rejoin our vehicles and gear for the next leg of our journey, Te Anau and Milford Sound. I had a bunch of camera gear to take, so I packed ultra light.

Under the Boardwalk

Being raised on the slog-and-bog style of rainforest track walking, the boardwalks and lodges of the Hump Ridge were a revelation to me. I like 'em. Once out of the chopper, we wasted no time in heading up the boards to take some scenics.

Okaka Lodge Jules on the Boardwalk

B&W Lookout

Make no mistake; New Zealand is one of the most benignly spectacular countries on earth. You'll see stunning vistas unmolested by large predatory mammals, tropical diseases or venomous snakes, insects or spiders. But our weather will kill you. Not that long ago, three teenagers died on a bush walk less than ten kilometres from Dunedin city centre. If you're not prepared for a subtropical day to turn into a polar one, don't go more than fifteen minutes walk from the lounge bar. Pack something warm, hat, gloves, rain shell, sturdy footwear, and if you're hanging around taking pictures, wind and rainproof over trousers will enhance not only your survival, but your comfort levels immensely.

Now relax and take some pictures. Even on a cold cloudy day, you'll get some winners. Just work with the amazing light.

Our weather will kill you, but the pictures will come out okay.

Tired of the scenics? Have fun with the plant life. Our Cannon contest winner Camilla was a great exponent of impressionistic shooting, using long exposures and camera movement to create beautiful abstract images, so I thought I'd give some a go myself.

Life More Blur

Blur shrubs

Boy I wish we could have stayed, but we had another location to get to, so hustled back down that wonderful boardwalk to the lodge. Before the trip, I'd been a little anxious about how one of my knees was going to perform, but I needn't have worried, the footing was superb and I could practice the robot-like gait my physio taught me. Well, it's better than how I used to walk. Forty years of loping around like Goofy takes its toll on your kneecaps. Don't get me wrong, the Hump Ridge track requires fitness. If you don't take the chopper, you've got some hills to climb. But however you get there, it's worth it.

Better than average hut fare

Down at the lodge, I was amazed to see the level of comfort walkers are now afforded, starting with the mulled wine, and ending in a comfortable room and bed. We opted for the hot coffee. I'd love to have stayed, but we had a chopper to catch for the next leg of our adventure. It was all good. I knew that there were more great pictures to take and somewhere up ahead, a hot shower and a change of underwear would be waiting.

Fine dining

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