Last week marked the start of Stephens' two week spring break. So we figured we should take advantage of the time and take off somewhere, see some of this great country in which we've lived for almost 2 years.
Our first destination was a little tramp just past Lewis Pass (where the St. James Walkway is that we did last year) to a little hut on the shores of Lake Daniels. This was perhaps not the best time for it as the big storm was still hammering that side of New Zealand, but now was when we had time. So we packed our rain gear and lots of chocolate.
Having left home at about 1pm we didn't arrive at the parking lot until about 4pm. But with a short 2 hour walk ahead of us and our recently saved daylight hours, we weren't too worried. We threw on our rain jackets, pulled on our packs and squelched down the track. It wasn't raining really badly, just sort of misting (which we all know is actually worse) so we were soon soaked. Fortunately, the temperature was warm and the trail was easy to follow. We heard loads of birds and even had a close encounter with the South Island Robin - a friendly little bird I hadn't yet had the chance to see. He seemed very intent on inspecting us before letting us pass.
[On the trail to Lake Daniels]
After passing our inspection, we happily rambled down the trail towards our destination. This however did not last too long, as we soon encountered some rather deep and rushing water - coming down the trail. As far as we could see. In fact, the whole last third of the trail was submerged below about a foot of water. There were the random boardwalks, appearing to float in the midst of the flooded forest, but these were more ridiculous than they were helpful. Despite our feet having been the only dry part of us before, we soon succumbed to the fact that we were to arrive completely waterlogged. And what a relief it was to arrive when we did. A lovely dry hut to strip down in and warm up . . . . or not. At least not with four noisy teenagers already there. I had a little giggle at poor Stephen's expense, thinking how we were out in the Southern Alps bush to escape the raging hormones, constant showing off and parading of teen angst and here it was right in front of us. Ah, the irony. But they had a fire going and were really very nice kids, so we just skipped the stripping down and went straight to warming up.
[Momentary dry ground]
[The view from the hut, looking across Lake Daniels]
The evening went relatively quickly, seeing as we had arrived at about 6:30pm and the sky was already dark with clouds. Some dinner and a couple games of cards and it was off to bed, where it was off to the land of dreams in a breath.
The next morning, we lay in bed listening to the kids getting all packed up and heading off back to meet their ride. Stephen brought me jumbalaya eggs (read leftovers mixed with eggs to make it breakfasty) in bed and I slowly emerged to get myself ready too. Rain pattered down on and off as we packed and had stopped as we emerged from the hut ready to start walking. Unfortuanately, with all the rain last night our trail swamp had deepened and parts of the trail came well up to my calf, so we were not to escape without getting wet. On the other hand, we did find ourselves lucky enough to see a couple of Kakariki, or yellow-crowned parakeets. We watched them pull at bark for their breakfast before moving along back to our car.
[The 90-degree tree - photo opportunity]
As we arrived at the parking lot, we were met in force by some early sandflies. Quickly stretching and unpacking we clambered into the car and drove 5 minutes up the road to Maruia Springs, a japanese bath that uses a natural hot spring (http://maruiasprings.co.nz/pools.php).