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  New Zealand
 
During the 80s and early 90s I went bushwalking (tramping) in New Zealand nearly every year.  The scenery is gorgeous and the lack of crowds, compared to Europe, is wonderful.  While the North island has some fine walks, the South Island is more dramatic and the landform is quite different, with many glacial valleys separated by cirques and alpine passes.  All of my pictures below are of the South Island.  Clearly my favourite!

Everyone knows the Milford Track and perhaps the Routeburn, but there are so many other beautiful tracks, especially in the South Island.   A great favourite of mine is the Rees-Dart in Mt Aspiring National Park. 




This picture of me on a swing bridge on the Rees-Dart just after entering the National Park on the way up the valley of the Rees remains one of my all-time favourites - all the more so because my camera was malfunctioning and defaulting to 1/60 of a second, and for this individual shot, the exposure was exactly right!

The upper Rees valley is a beautiful ascending amphitheatre culminating in the Rees Saddle, above the tree line.



The moss-and-beech forest along the track above the middle part of the valley of the Dart is an extraordinary environment.   There's good visibility - just as well, as you have to keep a sharp eye out at all times for the knotted slippery tree roots!

Another great favourite is
the Travers-Sabine track in Nelson Lakes NP.
 
 
This compilation starts from Lake Rotoiti and ascends the valley of the Travers to Upper Travers Hut.  The last shot is of beeches at Blue Lake, an absolute gem the other side of the Travers Saddle.
Here I am in the Travers Saddle above Upper Travers Hut, about 1600m ASL. 
There are strange "mountain sheep" - prostrate ground-hugging plants.
 
Blue Lake, the furthest point on the circular Travers-Sabine Track - in fact, a detour from it - is an exceptionally beautiful place.
This picture is taken from the moraine above Blue Lake on the way still further, up to Lake Constance.
 
The water of the lake is an unbelievable peacock-blue.  The rocks and beech trees are covered with moss and lichen.
 
Above Blue Lake, Lake Constance is quite a different colour.
Lake Constance

The Kepler track in south-central Fiordland NP is south of Te Anau.


The Kepler Track gives grand views down to Lake Manapouri, before it descends again through beech forest. This picture is not far from Mt Luxmore Hut, the hut reached at the end of the first day's hike (and climb).

More northerly in Fiordland NP is the Hollyford track, a lowland walk between huge mountain walls and alongside a river and lake.  The central section,
the Demon Trail, is a tiresome and not very rewarding slog, but the exit to the sea is beautiful, and you can call in a light plane to fly you out!


Montage of the Hollyford. Three-wire bridges
can be an experience, especially if the hand-wires are a bit slack!


The St James Walkway, north of the Lewis Pass, has some beautiful
sections and is well worth walking.
Boyle River hut is a welcome destination at day's end

as is -
Cannibal Gorge hut

Me on swing bridge between Ann River Hut and Ann Saddle

The Abel Tasman track in Abel Tasman NP at the top of the South Island is superb, with a remarkable combination of views of aquamarine-coloured sea and bright green forest with many tree ferns.  The walk also traverses beaches and a huge sandy estuary at low tide.  It's not only the mildest (easiest) of the South Island's major gems;  unusually for so far south, it can also be walked in any month of the year.

A wonderful side trip from the western end of the Routeburn is the hike up to Key Summit:

 
Montage of views on and from Key Summit

If you start the Routeburn from the eastern (Glenorchy) side, a very pleasant side trip from Routeburn Flats Hut is the walk up the Rock Burn:  this makes it well worthwhile to use the Flats hut for a leisurely overnight stay instead of pushing straight on up, as nearly everyone does, to the Falls Hut.

Less known but also worth walking are the Caples and Greenstone tracks, which can be done as a circuit starting and finishing near the western end of the Routeburn track. 

The Wangapeka track in the northwest of the South Island is interesting, though less frequently walked than the nearby Heaphy, which I haven't yet done.  Perhaps if I ever get fit enough again?

In the North Island, the Round-the-mountain track in Tongariro National Park shows remarkable volcanic landscapes, with turquoise-blue lakes, the cinder cone of Mt Ngauruhoe, hot springs near Ketetahi Hut and pretty beech forest on the Waihohonu (eastern) side.

The Lake Waikaremoana track in Waikaremoana National Park has grand scenery from atop a steep range, views down to a peacock-blue lake (waikaremoana - "sea of rippling water") and extended track-walking through beautiful temperate rainforest.



 
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