Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand: Trekking the Rees-Dart in Mount Aspiring National Park
By Michael Lanza
We’ve hiked just thirty minutes from the trailhead when we hit the kind of view that frequently makes you stop and take a deep breath when trekking in New Zealand. The Rees River Valley sprawls out before us, golden grasslands dissected by a braided, meandering, emerald-green river. In the middle distance, a fat and foaming Lennox Falls plunges over a cliff. Farther off and thousands of feet above us, glaciers pour off a row of sharp peaks in the Forbes Range angling into the sky.
My hiking partner, Gary Kuehn, an American who has lived here on New Zealand’s South Island working as a mountain guide for several years—long enough, apparently, to pick up that semi-intelligible Kiwi accent—looks around, grins, and mutters, “Pritty noice.”
Gary has seen a fair bit of these Southern Alps, where vistas like this are so common that they inspire an odd sort of déjà vu that you have stumbled into paradise for something like the fourth time today.
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