Looking for partners- fiordland off-route
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Hey, I’m planning to do some off route tramping in the Fiordland area (inspired by moir’s guide south ) such as lake quill, light and dark valley, te au tops and others. Looking for partner/s who has experience in Backdoor tramping and would like to go for an adventure. I’m 30 years old and here for 5 more months ( until end of April) . Cheers! :-)
Note that if you mean the Te Au in the Murchinson Mountains then it is in (on the edge of) the special protected area and that a permit is required for any access frim the east. Doc Te Anau will have details. Hope you realise how serious country all that is. Takes most people several years of NZ-specific experience before they're ready to try that country. And most nz trampers never attempt that level of trip. Good luck & take care.
@Liri alex I'm admire your energy and enterprise in wanting to tackle off track Fiordland; I had the great good fortune to spend almost 4 months deep in the Dusky Sound wilderness when I was much younger. Those trips were hugely rewarding and remain vivid in my memory decades later, so in no sense am I trying to discourage you from your dream. But madpom is perhaps one of the most capable and experienced NZ trampers around these days and what he says I would listen to. Seriously. What I would strongly suggest is planning on one of the more accessible Fiordland routes first. The Lake Roe/Dusky trip would be my pick; it's reasonably challenging and will give you a good feel for what you are venturing into. Gaining some experience on safer routes first will increase your chances of succeeding on the off-track wilderness trips you have in mind.
Anyone tackling this area needs to have done a course in river crossing and practised these techniques and assessment of rivers. Ability to select good campsites is another skill needed (which is where Graves fell short at times) and of course interpreting topographical maps. Off-track Fiordland is hard work. I've noted a few people planning to do this section on South Island traverses have changed their plans after considering weather forecasts and avoided Fiordland. The Henry Saddle/George Sound track will give you another good sense of what Fiordland has to offer, albeit on track. Not sure of the boundaries of the Murchison Protected Area but we came close to Te Au Saddle and Robin Saddle Hut on a traverse which included crossing from the Cozette Burn into the Irene River back in the day...
If you haven't already got remote fiordland experience, I second the idea of Henry saddle -> George sound as an intro. Gives a good idea of the country. Do that route/track then imagine doing it without a track through the scrub-leyer, down those bluffs off Henry or along that gorge. If the answer is 'yes, bring it on' then at least you go off track knowing what you're getting in to. Second thought is that I'd never head off track in Fiordland with someone who's skills I didn't know very well. If you find a partner: do some safer tramps with them - with easy safe bailout options. you can't risk finding out they're a liability in remote fiordland where your options to bail or change plans are very limited.
As @Honora and @madpom have mentioned trying something like the George Sound route would be a good way to get Fiordland experience that is off-the-beaten-track without being off track. If you then want to go off track ramp the difficulty up about 10x what you experience on this route! (At least that was how it was when we crossed from George Sound to the Stillwater then out of the Stillwater North branch and back to Henry Saddle.) As others have said the comments are not meant to discourage you just to ensure you know what you are getting in to as Fiordland is not to be under estimated.
eastern fiordland isnt so bad, beech forest is easier to move through , thres not much vegetation underneath it. the further west you go the more you get into mixed podocarp, it gets a lot thicker especially the ground vegetation underneath and scrubby plants that greatly slow you down.. and a lot of the areas in the valleys can be swampy and with deep mud, in heavy rain a lot of them become flooded and impassable.. and you have to negotiate step faces to get between the tops and the valleys
Thank you so much guys:) I will not do any off route track in fiordland without the right company & some experience in tracks such as George sound. So if anyone do wish to join me for a fiordland adventure, please give me a call , I’m here for a while ;-)
@LiriAlex On reflection I'd go with the George Sound track option as others have suggested. It has a more representative mix of the kind of terrain you mention in the OP. Fiordland is tough, and fitness is essential, but the kind of wilderness challenge you have in mind is certainly not impossible. Also I suggest that if you are planning any offtrack route, you should conservatively allow only 3-5km per day if you are moving in anything other than an easy river valley. You may do more, but often you won't. Best wishes. And if you care to write the trip up here afterwards ... you'd be most welcome.
Our slowest day was climbing out of the head of the Stillwater on our way to Henry Pass. About 2km but we managed 7km the next day as we got onto the track. Luxury.
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