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"Traveling at the Speed of Life"

Tag: hiking

The Kepler Track: Adventure Above the Clouds

The Kepler Track, situated in Fiordland National Park, is a 67 km. multi-day hike. It’s one of the most scenic and diverse treks in New Zealand, traversing lake edges, beech forest, alpine mountain tops and a U-shaped glacial valley. My travel partner and I spend 3 days in these spectacular surroundings. In order to be able to free camp we carried all the necessary equipment ourselves, which made up a lot of weight on our shoulders, making it a challenging and strenuous walk in certain parts. However, coming out of the forest into the mountains, walking on clouds and accompanied by the rising sun on our 2nd day, there was no doubt: This hike is worth all the blood, sweat and tears – and every single step you take along the way.

Up there, on the mountains, there’s no outside world. No noise-pollution. No light-pollution. No past and future. No ego. All that’s left is the purest, most basic form of existence. And if you listen carefully to the sound of nature, speaking silently, you might just be lucky enough to hear that inner voice of yours, the only true guide in life. Seek comfort in solitude. Because the answers we’re pursuing are all to be found within ourselves. That’s why it feels like a homecoming wandering into high places, it being just as much an inner as well as outer journey.

“When the wind calls, you know, that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were looking for. The pull of the horizon overcomes the inertia of reason…And you just have to go.”

Vikram Oberoi

The Route Map
Kepler Track Map


Day 1: Rainbow Reach – Brod Bay

First challenge on the trek; traversing this old school hanging bridge.
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Then the trail follows a lush, green forest.
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Passing crystal clear rivers on the way. 
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And beautiful, little beaches. 
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Soon we’ll be walking above the clouds in the distance. 
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But before then, the deeper parts of the forest awaits.
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Greener than Green.
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Brod Bay Campsite.
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We decided to walk on from the official campsite, to make our 2nd day easier.
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Walking the day away.
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At the end of the day, we passed these amazing limestone cliffs.
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Finding our own private camp spot in the forest.
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Happy Days!
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Day 2: Brod Bay – Iris Burn

Waking up on this beautiful spot, to the sound of our little neighbor singing outside. Can you spot him?
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The adventure above the clouds has truly begun. 
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Coming from the dense forest to these wide, open spaces is such an amazing feeling.
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Feeling at home.
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The easy way doing the Kepler Track, would be to camp in a hut, but the prize is outrageous!
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Breakfast above the clouds at Luxmore Hut.
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Not far from Luxmore Hut there’s a small cave to explore.
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The track starts climbing up towards Mt. Luxmore.
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Panorama from Mt. Luxmore.DSC01022

Mt. Luxmore is the highest point along the Kepler Track.
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Kea, New Zealand’s cheeky, curious Mountain Parrot.
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The infamous Kea flying on a mountain high.
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After contemplating life on the top of Mt. Luxmore, the adventure above the clouds continues.
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Green and lush describes the next part of the track.
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Walking towards the glaciers.
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Walking on a dream.
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The trail resembling a ladder to the clouds.
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Sunlight kisses the valley beneath.
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Back into the forest.
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A forest full of mystery and enchantment.
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The life force of the valley.
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Day 3: Iris Burn – Rainbow Reach

Waking up on Iris Burn Campsite to another amazing day. DSC01141

Having breakie here by this stunning waterfall.
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Walking through the Big Slip, a large slip caused by heavy rain.
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Back in the gorgeous beech forest.
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There’s something really enchanting about the forests on the Kepler Track.
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One of the most enjoyable parts of the whole track, is walking through the lush forests.
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I wonder if this will make me younger?
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Traversing the last part of the forest to the sound of a rushing river.
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The shore of beautiful Lake Manapouri.
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A lonely beach.
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The end is near…
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We did it! Back to where we started.
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Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”

Anatoli Boukreev 

 

 

 

 

Roys Peak Track

After a dark parade of gloomy, cloudy days, sunbeams, full of hope, reaching out like long, welcoming fingers, finally broke through the dark curtain in the sky, carrying a luring, addictive scent of wanderlust. Being in Wanaka in the south of New Zealand, a small, humble town ornamented with a crystal clear lake and crowned with magnificent mountains, I seized the chance and decided to blend in and merge with my surroundings, doing a one-day hike to Roys Peak, something the locals highly recommend. After all, locals are the best guides you’ll ever find, anywhere in the world.

Walking, to me, is meditation. It’s about time to breathe, to reflect, take it all in, feel carefree, full of life and connecting with yourself as well as everything around you. Here follows a short photo essay of my day out exploring the fairy tale town of Wanaka from above.

The first part of the track and nature begins to unfold in all its beauty.
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Pretty much the only even part of the track.
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The town of Wanaka to our left becomes smaller and smaller as we get closer to the summit.
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Up and up, the winding road goes.
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What would New Zealand be without sheep? (:
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The town of Wanaka might seem smaller from above, but the lake seems bigger.
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Even up here, flowers bloom.
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The view of the lake becomes more and more enticing, the higher you climb.
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And on the other side, new sides of the Lake appear.
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Standing in awe, on the top of giants!
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Met a wee hobbit on the last part of the climb to the summit.11

Sunbeams lighting up a peaceful valley.
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All-encompassing panorama from the 1,578-metre summit including most of Lake Wanaka, the surrounding peaks and Mount Aspiring.
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Stones of mystery.
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One last look at the valley before heading down, back to civilization.
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And so the long road down commences.
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With the lake starting to shrink in size again.
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And the town seeming to grow larger.
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If only I had known that there was an easier way getting down.
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This one-day hike is one of the best I’ve ever done. I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling to New Zealand – it’s bloody amazing!

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

Glaciers are fascinating creations of Mother Nature. Standing in front of them you can’t help but feel some sort of insignificance. In a good way. It makes you feel humble, grateful and awakes responsibility and a want in you to care for and do whatever is in your power to preserve the beauty you find in your natural surroundings. You want to give back. Because that’s the least you can do to show your gratitude after being rejuvenated, revitalized and filled with awe and joy walking beneath the gentle giants. Here follows a photo essay of a day hike to Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island of New Zealand.

Future generations are not going to ask us what political party were you in. They are going to ask what did you do about it, when you knew the glaciers were melting.
Martin Sheen

Rule number 1 when hiking: Find yourself a magic walking stick!
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First part of the track leads you through a lush forest.
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And a lake with otherworldly reflections.
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The Kea, New Zealand’s inquisitive mountain parrot, is a common sight along the track.
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The look into this valley is… wow… just wow!
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Next, the trail carries you towards an opening in the misty mountains ahead.
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A wild river of silver and white complement the surrounding mountains.
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Breaking into a duet with the sound of rushing waterfalls.
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The findings of mysterious rock formations kindle our curiosity.
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While excitement rises as we get closer to the gap in the mountains.
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The glacier welcomes us with open arms in the distance.
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Finally at the foot of the glacier – high-five!
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Being rewarded with a divine view like this one, it was worth every step.
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On the way back…
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The waterfall in the distance lured us into temptation.
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A bit of bromance after a naked bath in the freezing, but refreshing water.
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Smaller and humbler waterfalls were also present on the way back.
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Doing a walk like this awakes the inner child in you.
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Stealing one last glimpse at the magnificent glacier before it’s time to get back to reality.
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“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

The Road to Mount Doom

In the spirit of last week’s post, here follows another photo essay of a crucial Lord of the Rings location. With 2 of my most entrusted Hobbits I embarked on a 10-hour trek to Mount Doom, following in the footsteps of Frodo amidst dramatic volcanoes and a mesmerizing ever-changing landscape through what is called the Alpine Crossing. Rated as “the best 1-day trek in New Zealand” and listed by many as one of the “top 10 day treks in the world”, it’s probably the most challenging, yet most rewarding and diverse track I’ve ever done. Take a look at the photos and judge for yourself.

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

Entering the heart of Mordor with Mount Doom in the distance. 
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And so the walk begins, with all that lies ahead…
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And all that lies behind…
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Snow peaked mountains complementing a perfect blue sky.
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Even more distant & mystical, a floating mountain, wonderfully lost in the clouds.DSC09437

Into the darkness we go.
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One step closer to Mount Doom.
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And with every step we take, the more terrifying it gets.
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A ruthless, sorrowful landscape surrounds Mount Doom at this stage.
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Finally, the climb begins. 
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Higher and higher we climb, holding on to whatever strength we can muster.
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Falling rocks tell stories of suffering, hardship and trials.
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Last part of the climb, first sight of snow in 2 years.
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Beware of Mount Doom and its wrath!
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Mount Doom is conquered!
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Enjoying a well earned lunch, looking out into the volcanic wasteland.
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The colors that bleed and blend together at the top are otherworldly. DSC09574

No less impressive on the other side.
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Another sign of the wrath of Mount Doom after throwing the ring into the fire.
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And then the long way down commences.
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Khaled found the right technique.
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Back on the ground, the walk continues.
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Yet another long and winding road ahead.
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A little rest is needed to carry on the journey.
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Everything still seems dead and desolate in the land of Mordor.
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But lo and behold! First sign of water in a loooong time.
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At this point the walk seems to go on forever and ever.
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But suddenly, the other side of the mountains is within sight.
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And the last part of the journey, a hopeful, lush forest, with gentle, flowing water.
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“The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.”

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