First tramp to NZ from Michigan USA - Resv at Huts
My wife and I (Retirees in our 60s) are 30 days away from beginning our first ever tramp in NZ. We have Abel Tasman, Milford, Keplar, Routeburn, Mt Cook/Mueller treks all scheduled and huts reserved (February/March). I did not plan to carry a tent, just a tarp for emergency, as we have reservations at the huts, but I have heard that huts may be over-booked or people stay in them without reservations. My wife and I love to take our time and enjoy the outdoors and take plenty of pictures, rather than race to the hut to claim a bed, versus the floor. We have backpacked many places around the world and have not ran into this issue, yet (luck i expect). Is it an issue in NZ? Last thing we want to do is cause a stir upon arrival to a hut, as we will be tramping with these same people for a few days, I expect.
Yep to the above. Check the Hump ridge track too if you want something further south
My vibe is to stay at the top of the South in either Kahurangi or Nelson Lakes National Parks. You're not starting the Kepler until 21/2 so by staying at the top you can start your second adventure sooner. Also, weather often tends to be better at the top. All the suggestions for this area are wonderful and you can't go wrong with any of 'em. Good luck and first things first: enjoy the Abel Tasman!
ultimate hikes think they will be back on the routeburn by end of feb https://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz/ultimate-hikes-notice
From Waynowskis link "You may be aware that DOC have cancelled all independent walkers on the Routeburn Track for the rest of the season. We accept that the track has suffered some severe damage but we are not yet prepared to rule out being able to walk the track later in the season. We would only do this if we thought it was safe and that any contingencies covering affected areas did not compromise the quality of your experience. To this end, we have not yet cancelled departures in March and April." Remembering Howden hut is probably out of action for some time plus the damage they havnt told us about I would suggest this could be wishful thinking and extremely optimistic
howden hut isnt essential to completing the routeburn, most routeburn walkers bypass it... its now more of an overload hut when the bigger huts are full in the main season... the toilets at howden huts however are important because of the large no's of day walkers who pass through and apart from a couple of toilets up at key summmit they are the only toilets before mackenzie hut. if the track is a construction site like it is on the paparoa at the moment then DOC will maintain a blanket ban on anyone going near the construction area... day walks might be possible before the end of the season, but DOC have the last word on when the track is open, ultimate hikes are second guessing in the hope of retaining money. ultimate hikes spent a fortune doubling the size of their accommodation on the routeburn recently , one of which was done against the park management plan for aspiring which bans any extra sleeping accommodation in huts in the park, they have a very vested interest to wanting to get back on the track. other tourist operators are writing off the season for the routeburn https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/119342589/fiordland-tourism-operators-and-doc-work-to-assess-flood-damage
Heaphy is also a Great Walk so you can book beds and be guaranteed one even if you arrive at the hut later in the day. In my opinion not so spectacular as the Routeburn / Milford area (not that I've done either of those tracks!) but a lovely walk, with fantastic areas like the Gouland Downs and the West Coast north of Karamea. You will still get to see the spectacular mountain scenery when you do the Kepler, so you won't miss out on this :-) Travers or Travers-Sabine / Blue Lake / Angelus is one of my favourites, although I was there in pre Te Araroa times so not as busy as it is now. Only Angelus Hut is bookable. Angelus is worthwhile as an overnighter, the trip along Robert Ridge (in good weather) is just amazing and there is tarn swimming at the hut. St Arnaud at the trailhead is also a nice place to stay. Are you interested in going as far south as Stewart Island? Rakiura track there is another great walk, so again has bookable huts. If bookable huts (ie able to take your time and arrive later at the hut and know you'll have a mattress and bed) is important for you, I'd stick up north for a second tramp after Abel Tasman and head to the Heaphy. Then do the Kepler, then consider Rakiura (or Humpridge, I think this is private so beds would be booked)
I've just noticed my profile photo is above Angelus Hut :-) The tarn behind is by the hut
Several bridges completely destroyed on the Routeburn: https://www.doc.govt.nz/contentassets/3e5fa96691094e4abe0d32159963d16d/gallery/twin-bridge.jpg https://www.doc.govt.nz/contentassets/3e5fa96691094e4abe0d32159963d16d/gallery/routeburn-flats-bridge.jpg https://www.doc.govt.nz/contentassets/3e5fa96691094e4abe0d32159963d16d/gallery/sugarloaf-stream-bridge.jpg Also some pretty severe damage at Howden, between The Divide and Howden and between Howden and McKenzie I believe, so it seems to me Ultimate Hikes are being pretty optimistic about getting going sometime in March. If it was just on part of the track, they (and possibly DOC) could organise helicopter shuttles past the bad bit, but it seems badly damaged in many places. Milford Road is a mess too, I've seen some pictures of big sections completely washed away.
howden hut is where i would have expected it to be least likely to have a slip. theres far more places on the routeburn that are steeper and more slip prone than howden hut. earland falls could have made a mess of the bypass track and bridge, i think i saw one photo where there were just wires left on a bridge... the track is supposed to be a benched track, theres going to be a lot of places where slips would have wiped the track out and they will have to recut it. a metre of rain is a thousand litres of water per square metre of land... thats way more than storms normally bring even to there.
Abel Tasman track was amazing. Heading south now and hoping for the best. Flexible schedule. That’s what an adventure is all about. Also for others, there is solar charging at the anchorage hut, but not valet service as “someone” stated. 😀. Thanks for all the helpful advice, it is helping us slot. Your country is beautiful. Three more weeks to go !
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