Taking up a whopping 5% of New Zealand’s land mass, Fiordland National Park is spectacular. More hiking and camping for us- yay!
Fiordland is aptly named – the steep glacial carved mountains drop into deep green seas. With nearly 8m of rain a year, we have been SO lucky to have a handful of blue skies down here. Other then make tourists soggy, all that rain has also created a really cool phenomena. About 2m of fresh water sits on top of the salt water in the fiords – so there aren’t any barnacles or mussels clinging to the intertidal zone. Not only that, the fresh water has traveled down the mountain sides and become concentrated with tannins, which tints the water with a rusty brown colour. This has impacted the amount of light that reaches below the 2m of fresh water so much that the sea creatures living at just 4m below sea level are usually found below 20m!
Above water there is lots to look at too. To see the tops of the mountains you have to crane your head back all the way! On our first sunny day we hiked up the Key Summit, which we were told was the best hike to do if you only have a few days in the area.
The Department of Conservation created a self guided nature walk brochure for the alpine area at the Key Summit. Miranda and I are putting together a little video footage to share with you… but you’ll have to be patient and wait for that. Looking around at the top it was really cool to see the hanging valley that Lake Marian sits in.
Since we could see Lake Marian from the Key Summit we decided that it would be cool to hike up there as well to get a different perspective. It was a bit of a rougher track, but the turquoise/emerald lake was well worth it. We couldn’t stay at the top for very long because we were afraid the swarms of loonie sized mosquitoes were going to carry us off!
Road Trip Requirement
As with any road trip, you can expect at least one minor mishap. We got a flat tire. Not to worry – the friendly people of Te Anau were there for the rescue!
The culprit was a rouge screw! We’ve kept it as a memento. The tire was patched and we were out of there in about half an hour. It was actually really cool to watch the tire being patched – I’d never seen it done before.
We caught Mirror Lake on a breezy day, so the sign was a little hard to read.
A Couple of Our Favourite Camps
Rainbow Reach to Shallow Bay
A much gentler hike, this one followed the river into Lake Manapouri.