Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Copland Track

One week later, and I'm still thinking about the dewy, lush rainforest and the comforting sounds of glacial streams and rivers of the Copland Track.

The overnight hike into the alpine is 6 hours up, at a steady pace, and 4.5 hours down when you're in a rush (we were booking it so we could reach Queenstown that evening for a BYO)

We began our walk at the car park, after the gated entrance, where the sand flies are notorious for attacks. I suggest spraying on the repellant before leaving the safety of your car.

Only 2 minutes in, with the camper van about 50 metres in sight, we ran into our first dilemma. The creek crossing was slightly too high to cross in our boots and we didn't have gaiters. After throwing a few rocks into the creek bed to create stepping stones, we gave up, took off our boots, and waded across in our bare feet. This was the first of dozens of puddle jumps, creek crossing, and river bridge walkways, but the only section where we needed to remove our boots.

The following 6 hours offered otherworldly views of mossy forests, river rapids and snow-capped mountains. Are there any other rainforests in the world where you don't have to worry about snakes, spiders, wild cats, or insects with diseases? As much as I love stumbling upon some wildlife, I appreciated the safety of the New Zealand forests and its bird songs. We collected fresh spring water, straight from the source throughout our walk.

We arrived at Welcome Hut, just as the Department of Conservation helicopter was taking off after delivering supplies to the hut warden. We had the 31-person wooden cabin to ourselves for the night, luckily missing the group bookings in the week. 50 meters down a path that adjoins the hut, there are the natural hot pools. Out of all the natural hot pools I've been to, these were the MOST PERFECT temperature. The pools are quite shallow and have a bit of clay, but we stayed for hours, sipping on wine and enjoying the views. I suggest going in spring as it's cold enough to truly enjoy the heat of the pools and the mountain wind gusts kept the sandflies at bay.

There's a small, clear creek which runs along the path back to the hut, this is where I stripped down butt-naked and rinsed off before putting on my merino and cooking dinner by the glow of our headlamps and solar light.

Since we were flying back from Christchurch to Auckland, we planned in advance to pack light. Here are my suggestions:

What you need to bring for one night:
Tramping backpack 
Insulated water bottle
Sleeping Bag
Portable gas cooker
Trail snacks, dinner, breakfast, coffee/tea/chocolate

Tank top
Puffy (doubles as a pillow!)
Merino pajamas
2 pairs of socks (tramping and sleeping/wearing in the hut)
Waterproof boots

You can also view some of my adventure travel essentials here.

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