Tag Archives: Southern Alps
By Michael Lanza
We step out of the Lake Roe Hut into a persistent drizzle, deep in what may be the most dishonestly named mountains in the world—the Pleasant Range in New Zealand’s chronically soggy Fiordland National Park. Belligerent gusts hurl cups of water into our faces. By the time my friend, Jeff, and I have taken our first 50 steps on the Dusky Track, we have both sunk knee-deep a dozen or more times into some of the heaviest, gloppiest, boot-suckingest mud that I have ever mired a leg in.
Garbed head to toe in rain shells, gaiters, gloves, and waterproof, leather boots, we hike across an almost treeless landscape, the “trail,” such as it is, intermittently fading into a sea of knee-high grass. Boggy tussock masquerades as earth, but the ground seems more liquid than solid: Excavate and wring out a cubic meter of it, and I’d bet my wide-brim, Gore-Tex hat you could fill a bathtub. Our mode of travel falls somewhere between walking on water and wading through land. Continue reading →
Welcome to The Big Outside’s Trip Planner for trekking hut to hut on the Dusky Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.
This trip planner describes how to plan and execute a hut-to-hut trek on “New Zealand’s hardest hut trek,” the 52.2-mile (84k) Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park, and shorter trips on sections of it. This planner includes tips on the best season, local travel logistics, booking huts, difficulty, and safety. See my story at The Big Outside about my trip, “Hiking New Zealand’s Hardest Hut Trek, the Dusky Track,” which includes dozens of photos. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
The forecast for New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park looks particularly grim, even for this chronically wet region that receives more than 30 feet of rainfall annually—or about 10 times as much rain as Seattle. A “Southwesterly,” a fierce and not uncommon type of storm that blows in from the Southern Ocean off Antarctica and can offload several inches of rain, will slam into Fiordland’s mountains and fjords over the next couple of days. With that kind of forecast, locals just hunker down indoors and wait it out what they refer to as a “weetha bum” (Kiwi for “weather bomb”). My friend, Jeff, and I, however, are going hiking. Continue reading →
My buddy Nolan and I are backpacking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand starting in January, and I’ve got a few gear questions I’d like to ask you. We’re just graduating high school and will be selling ourselves into slavery for the next six months to make money for this trip, so we’re certainly on a budget but I think we can still afford the middle/lower end of the high-end gear spectrum. We’ll be in hostels/huts about a quarter of the time. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Have you adventured in New Zealand yet? If not, then why not? Some of my all-time favorite assignments for Backpacker magazine have involved trekking and paddling on this island nation with an amazing bounty of natural beauty and a outdoors-loving culture to match it.
This is the time of year to start planning a visit during the upcoming austral summer; for many trips, you need to make travel arrangements and hut reservations months in advance. I’ve listed below a series of five-star, multi-sport adventures that could fill a two-week (or longer) visit to New Zealand. This itinerary includes dayhiking volcanoes, canoeing a wild river, a hut trek in the Southern Alps, and sea kayaking a remote fjord in the country’s largest national park. Click on the links (or any photo) to read the complete story about each trip. Continue reading →