Although Jenna has been doing all the writing about our adventures I felt compelled after completing the Kepler Track to share my thoughts. I had this romantic vision in my mind of what New Zealand represented and even though we’ve experienced some incredible things since moving here I did wonder if I had created an expectation that was impossible to live up to. The Kepler Great Walk dispelled that doubt and then some. I had no idea what the Kepler Track was, let alone a “Great Walk” before coming to New Zealand. I have Yvonne and David to thank for introducing us to the concept, and specifically the Kepler Track. The first picture I saw of Kepler was in a link that Yvonne shared on Facebook which showed someone hiking a mountain ridge dusted with snow.
|The photo that popped up on my facebook when Yvonne messaged me (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)|
That picture was all I needed to say to Jenna, “I don’t care what we do on the South Island as long as we do this.” Some early investigation led to some avalanche concerns this time of year but by the time we arrived in Te Anau (the gateway town to the Kepler) they assured us the avalanche risk had passed.
With that reassurance, we were off on our second Great Walk. I was most excited about the Kepler because I wanted to walk across the mountain ridges with snow on them which we got to do, however I wasn’t prepared for the other gems the Kepler had in store for us. In the four days it took us to complete the walk we experienced tropical rainforests, multiple waterfalls, breathtaking views of lakes and snow-covered mountains, swamp/marshlands, a snowfall, frost covered grasslands, beautiful beaches, close-up encounters with wildlife (parrots and a goofy looking deer) and of course ridge-top walks.
|Collection of scenery shots along the track|
This diversity of landscapes all packed together in a tight package is what I had envisioned New Zealand to be and it ignited my excitement about our adventure even more. The part that took it right over the edge was when we went on a side journey to Luxmore Cave, a 10 minute walk from Luxmore Hut. There was about 8 of us that took off at once and after a few hundred feet the cave narrowed enough to turn everyone but Ryan and I around. After squeezing through a few narrow sections we discovered the underwater river and cave system opened up to reveal multiple passage ways, open caverns, stalactites & stalagmites. In the end we spent about an hour underground following the river for what seemed like forever.
|Ryan striking a pose at the first of cave splits we encountered|
|It’s not easy setting up a camera timer and lights underground but we pulled it off!|
|One of the larger caves we found underground|
Minus the cave excursion the Kepler was the single experience I was hoping to have to personify what New Zealand meant to me. With the cave experience added in, it blew my expectations out of the water and has only added fuel to the fire to do and experience more of this awesome country.
|One of the last large chunks of snow along the mountainside|
Read Jenna’s Perspective to see more amazing photos along the ridgeline on the Kepler Track
Check out Episode 17 – Kepler Track