Snow to 200m. That’s the forecast, so when I pulled back the blinds in the Te Anau accommodation I’ve been for a couple of nights there was some surprise that no snow was to be seen. Some clag about the 800m mark but really, that forecast, like so many, was just wrong.

Time for a decent breakfast, ie, porridge and two cups of coffee and a last-minute fluff around before setting off. Where I’ve been staying is on the outskirts of town, the wrong side, so that adds a couple of kilometres to the day’s efforts, and then another hour’s walk from the centre of town to the lake’s Control Gates, a dam managing the flow of water to the Manapouri Hydro Electric scheme. Other trampers prefer to take their car to the start of the track proper here.

Still no snow evident, plenty of blue sky between moving clouds.

I’m surprised at the numbers of people on the track, 23 people one night at the weekend at Luxmore Hut, and there’s seven people some distance in front. Three of them turned back at the first sign, not even making it into the forest and I soon catch up to a United Nations party of four intent on getting up to the first hut. Man, they all have runners on, cotton clothes, two have actual packs, one of the others has his sleeping bag in his hands, looks like a Warehouse $19.99 special. Someone has left his camera down the track and goes back.

I’m left wondering what would have happened to this lot with that predicted snow.

I’m in no hurry, as usual, spending time looking across the lake, and the forest with as big red beech trees as you will find, the lake edge undergrowth mostly crown fern, until you start climbing and the vegetation starts to diversify.

There’s another surprise, you have to climb from 200m at the lake, 1000m at the hut, that’s not the surprise, rather a big set of limestone cliffs you sidle around under, where did they come from?

There is also, finally, the new snow around the 850m mark, mostly gone, and after bursting out onto the tops, none on the track.

Up here, no impediment to the massive view, the lake, Te Anau now way below, snow covered mountains all around, mostly blue sky, not much in the way of wind.

With that weather forecast who would have predicted this?

Day 2 | Iris Burn Hut, Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park →