Under the snowcapped mountains of Fiordland National Park, freshwater streams empty into the saltwater fiords, creating a unique ecosystem. This is a heavily wooded park, so the water in the streams is stained with tannin, a substance found in plants that makes clean water seem dirty, though it isn’t.” – Brian Skerry
It was the perfect day for a walk. The temperature had plunged from the day before, and a light mist dusted the air. The air was clean and fresh from heavy rain the night before. Hopefully, the trails would be sparsely traveled (for Fiordland), and I wasn’t scheduled at either of my jobs.
It was perfect.
I set off towards the bird sanctuary, managing to catch both takahē out and foraging. A flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand, they were thought to be extinct for decades, before being re-discovered in 1948. Now, thanks to conservation efforts, there are over 263 birds — a number which is growing, slowly but surely.
As I’d hoped, the trail was all but deserted. The grass and soil were still damp, and clouds hung thick and low, obscuring the view of the peaks and blocking out the sun.
The presence of other trampers was scarce, even at the start of the Kepler Trek. I followed the split in the trail towards Lake Manapouri, and soon found myself walking along the Waiau River through a beech tree forest.
The petrichor was heavy there, rising from the rich soil and spongy beds of moss. Lichen decorated those beds like a garnish, painting the forest floor in soft shades of green and blue.
The trail was an easy one, rising and falling with the curvature of the landscape, following the river south. For a forest, the scenery was subtly dynamic — crossing streams, curving along hillsides, traversing tiny valleys…
Gaps in the lush forest were usually filled in with tall scrub-like trees. Their scraggly bark and subtle shades of blueish-green foliage made for a beautiful path to walk along, but I was doubly grateful for the rain the night before, as these things wreak havoc with my allergies!
It took several hours, but I emerged along the river shore again, walking a short distance further before coming across Rainbow Reach. Truth be told, I’d planned on going further that day, but I was getting pressed for time and would’ve had to rush the rest of the distance.
It would do.
I walked over the swaying bridge, crossing Rainbow Reach, and took a few minutes to scarf my lunch before turning around and heading back. I passed a few other hikers — laden down with packs stuffed to bursting, trekking poles in hand. Heading out to circle the Kepler, no doubt — a brave undertaking after the relentless rain of the past few days.
Hopefully it would change. But that’s Fiordland. Predictably unpredictable.
How about you? What’s a recent hike you’ve been on? How was it? Let me know in the comments below!