By Michael Lanza

After my friend Jeff Wilhelm and I reached the Luxmore Hut, where we planned to spend the first night of our three-day trek on the Kepler Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, we quickly decided there was no way we were just hanging out there for the rest of the afternoon. The sun was shining—which, in Fiordland, is rare enough that a smart trekker takes advantage of it: This corner of the world receives a mind-boggling volume of rain, up to about 400 inches a year, about 10 times as much rainfall as Seattle gets annually. So instead of resting, Jeff and I went for a hike.

Some 90 minutes of hiking beyond Luxmore Hut sits the 1,472-meter (4,829-foot) summit of Mount Luxmore, reputedly one of the finest views on the Kepler, a track already stunning enough to be included among New Zealand’s nine vaunted Great Walks. We lucked out: The skies stayed clear for our three-hour, round-trip hike from the hut, and I snapped this image of Jeff on the summit of Luxmore, in strong winds, with a sweeping views of jagged peaks stretching for many miles.

Hiking Luxmore that first afternoon turned out to a good call: We hiked that same route past Mount Luxmore the next morning in a driving rain, snow flurries, and limited visibility. But that’s Fiordland for you—a place where the weather is as wild as the land.

I’ll write about our adventure on the Kepler Track for Backpacker magazine, and eventually at The Big Outside. Meanwhile, you can read my stories about past trips I’ve taken in New Zealand and all of my stories about international adventures at The Big Outside.

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