Oooch Day 1 of the Kepler Trail was flagged as a tough one. Most of us had a sleepless night, despite the leisurely start. We were picked up at 9.45am… but it felt like 6.45am. It was only just light, there had been snow overnight, and tension was high.
There was a big squish to get our bags in the van, and many of us ended up with our bags on our laps, which didn’t help the general mood. When we went to drop our bags off at our end-point-motel, no one was at reception, however we made ourselves at home – took a photo and left a note – and made our way to the water taxi with minutes to spare.
It was the moment before getting on the taxi that the mood turned to excitement. The sky had cleared, the water was crystal clear, and we were going on an adventure! As soon as we popped off the boat in Brod Bay we were on another planet. White, sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water, then as soon as you ducked under the shade of the trees you were transported to The Lord of the Rings; bright green sphagnum moss, kiwi burrows, ferns as far as the eye could see, and gnarled cabbage trees.
We had a quick toilet break – if you see a toilet you use it on this trail – and then we began! It took about 2hrs of climbing before we hit the snow line, and then the magic hit a new level. The snow in the trees was melting as we walked, providing a soundtrack to the climb that was like a meditation soundtrack. About another hour of climbing got us out of the forest, and then the views opened up. We spent a while above the treeline, admiring Lake Te Anau and the distant mountains.
View this post on Instagram
It was here that Carol earned her nickname “Jack”. She had asked a fellow hiker who was on their way down the mountain to let us know where she was. This hiker let us know that our “Jack Rabbit” friend was on a rock having a cup of tea further up the mountain!!!
The hut came in to view not much further along. The first thing we noticed was the plethora of Kea hanging about the doors, tearing chunks off the eaves, and having a marvellous romp in the snow. The Kea have the intelligence and mischievous inclinations of a 4.5YO child, and they were very entertaining to watch – however precautions had to be taken to keep our things safe!
A few of us took a little extra walk this afternoon to go and see the Luxmore Cave. It was about 10min from the hut and reported to have glow worms. Unfortunately, we had forgotten headlamps, so didn’t venture far enough to see the glow worms (if there were any), but it was a wonderful mini-adventure all the same!
This evening Karla earned her nickname too – Garbage Guts – or GG. Not only did she finish everyone else’s meals, she had two dinners herself!
This evening most of us were tucked up in bed by 7… 12 hrs seemed about adequate to recover from the days efforts!!