So in honor of my grandmother and the love she instilled in me, today I share one of my favorite mountain adventures of the last decade: walking the Routeburn Track over New Zealand's Southern Alps. The Routeburn Track is a 32km trail that starts near the end of Lake Wakatipu, crosses a high saddle, and drops down the range's other side to end not far from Milford Sound. My husband and I decided to do the Routeburn instead of its more famous cousin the Milford Track on our trip to New Zealand in 2006 because we'd heard the views were better and the track spends far more time in high alpine terrain (always a plus in our book). Also, no sandflies: even bigger plus!
Robert and I and our good friend Catherine took a bus from Queenstown to the start of the track, enjoying gorgeous views of Lake Wakatipu along the way.
|At the start of the track: Catherine, Robert, and me
|Robert on the bridge
|View of the Routeburn valley
|Routeburn Flats area, near the hut
|Robert on the trail
|View from Routeburn Falls Hut
|Backpackers in the hut's communal area
|Robert at Routeburn Falls
|High alpine terrain
|Robert and I near Lake Harris
|At the Harris Saddle
|I could look at these mountains all day! (Amazingly, they're only about 8000 ft high; but they are far more glaciated and rugged than Colorado's far-higher peaks.)
|Catherine on the trail
|All three of us at an overlook
|Robert enjoying the views
|Looking down at Lake MacKenzie
|Catherine's ready to tackle the switchbacks
|More lovely views
|Approaching Howden Hut
The Routeburn Track was amazing, and it only whetted my appetite to one day return and explore the Southern Alps more thoroughly. In the meantime, at least I have all ten zillion hours of Peter Jackson's LotR and Hobbit movies to help keep my memories of NZ's spectacular scenery fresh.