Starting our 10.4 mile hike – Day 1 Hollyford Track
A splurge of our trip that was worth every penny was a guided 3-Day hike along the Hollyford Track. Our guides, Mush, a geologist and hiking enthusiast, and Kahu, a recent high school grad with a new found enthusiasm for his Maori heritage lead us from the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, though native rain forest, myth and history rich rivers and lakes, and to the remote sand dunes and surf of the rugged West Coast.
Here’s some photos of Day One, which included a 10.4 mile hike, touching and tasting our way through the rain forest, lunch on a riverbank, and hot showers and a three course meal at the lodge in the middle of the woods. We fed river eels and wandered through glowworm caves for our night’s entertainment.
The Hollyford Track has a fascinating history that I won’t try to recreate here. The entire three days were a crash course in the geology, botany, plate tectonics, and the legends and histories of the pioneers and Maori of the area.
Kahu is a member of the Ngai Tahu tribe, who have rights to the land the Hollyford is on.If you know me, you won’t be surprised that I got him to teach me as much Maori as possible as we hiked along.
The Maori people only arrived in New Zealand around 1350. It’s actually the last land mass on Earth to be populated. When the Ngai Tahu tribe arrived in this part of the South Island, they discovered Pounamu (greenstone or jade) on the West Coast and began bringing it to the more populated East coast to trade. How did they bring it? Along the Hollyford Track.
Gunn’s Camp museum – a shack dedicated to legendary mid-1800s pioneer Davey Gunn and his fantastic horse-back travel excursions down the Hollyford. He drowned on that saddle…
After a volcanic explosion or rock slide — that red algae is the first thing to grow. It is acidic and releases minerals from the rock that allow the green moss to grow. Then seeds can germinate in the moss and a forest can grow.
Walking some more – through gorgeousness
Kahu skips stones at lunch. Kahu is part of the Ngai Tahu tribe that has rights to the Hollyford Valley. They own the company that ran the hike.
Found a waterfall. (We swam in the pool – pic to come from fellow hiker!)
Ya know, just a typical day in NZ.
The fungi on the tree are called Monkey Seat. They are very flammable. Maori women would carry hot coals in baskets from one camp to another on a journey, and adding some Monkey Seat would keep the coals hot for hours, even in the rain.
Any field you discover covered in thistles was where Davey Gunn burned they forest down for one of his huts.
You can eat this plant. It tastes like hot peppers. We ate some!
You can eat the fronds of the hard fern. They taste like walnuts. They look like worms.
Enormous snow capped mountain with cool story i can’t remember. Kahu! Help!
Constantly surrounded by beauty.
A tree knocked the bridge down. WE MUST CONTINUE ON!
Our lodge for the night in the middle of the wilderness.
Our cushy package included 3 course meals for dinner. hahahhahahhaha.
Entrees. The couple working here live here two weeks on, one week off. They love working in tourism and travel to lodges in the wilderness all over the world doing this!
Nighttime entertainment? Feeding our leftovers to the waiting eels in the lake. Well “in”… they were happy to come out and grab the sushi right out of our hands.
Night walk to a glowworm cave. That blue mucus is where they catch their prey then suck their brains out. Ew. Glow worms.