Albert Town Campsite and Beyond

NZ as a country is best experienced in the mountains and in the ocean away from the traffic lights and paved roads. After all the exploring and hiking it's great to return to a basecamp with friendly and familiar faces. Albert town's campground was that place. Friends from Takaka had migrated south. Evenings and long and lazy mornings were spend cooking, drinking stimulants and talking trash. All good ways to unwind while coming up with new things to do.

Mount Maude

The mountain was high enough for a day walk and only 10 minute drive from the camp. It was probably on private land considering all the barbwire I had to avoid. I quickly crossed the highway and started walking up aimlessly. Up up up... Approach was annoying. I ripped my clothes on endless thorny bushes and crawled through vegetation so thick I had to turn back on several occasions. The faintest paths left behind by deer helped me quite a bit. One finds those paths by crouching and pretending to be a deer. It was the only way forward. As I finally punched through the dusty bush the world opened up. A large stag in the distance started climbing up the mountain less than 100 meters away.

The walk on open space up towards the top was enjoyable. The day was warm so I enjoyed the view at the peak for quite some time laying down on the wild meadow. For the walk down I first looked around instead of just punching through aimlessly. Following animal tracks and ridges I found a path left behind by deer hunters. Where else in the world can you choose a peak like this and just start walking? Put aside the fact that if it's private land the owner might start shooting at you... The endless straight lines of fences in NZ kind of irritate a Finn who is used to 'every man's rights' where private lands are playgrounds for everyone, to an extend. I know the cows need fences and 1 million tourists stomping through someones land is not cool. Still if there is a beautiful mountain on the other side of the fence I'll take my changes.

Stopped by a river and a landslide

I had few days to kill before my visa was ending. My last trip to west coast did not go the way I planned. First multiday hike was cut short by the first river crossing. Half a dozen tries through different parts of the river left my feet shivering and mind slightly frustrated. It had been raining the day before and the flow of the river was too strong. I was no match to a 20 meters wide river when the water level rose to my belly button. Rocks started shifting under my feet several times. Luckily I didn't get swepped away by the current. After realizing the river was too strong the hardest part was to turn around since that change of direction required momentarily putting both legst sideways against the river. A semi-strong cain was the only thing preventing me and my bag getting totally soaked. All and all a good experience with little adrenaline attached to it.

The famous Fox and what-ever-glaciers were boring from the distance. I kept driving north on the west coast until it got dark. The rain got very strong that night. Sleeping inside the car was hard due to the noise of the rain hitting the roof and a thunder storm that kept getting closer. The next morning I woke up early to continue the drive. As I pulled back to the highway the first thing I saw was a traffic sign saying "Road Closed". Man told me the highway had been swept away by a large landslide. Having worked with landslides the past winter and seeing the photos I knew I was stuck.

Day hike up to Mt Armstrong

I didn't want to drive 350km back to Albert Town on one push so I stopped for a day hike up Mt Armstrong. Fun little 6h hike and scramble puzzle at the end over big loose boulders was enough the keep my eyes open until I reached Albert Town campsite one last time.

Last Days

Drive towards a big city and the airport went by on autopilot. I wish I could say the last days were fun times but all I could think was to get out of the country. Nature was definitely the reason that made NZ so special in comparison to many other places I've visited. I sold or gave away the last of my excess gear and the reliable Toyota Corolla. 15 months of life got stuffed in few bags. New continent was approaching fast. Overall happy times.