Bethany from MacKenzie Campground

Merry Christmas! It seems very strange that today is Christmas.

We awoke in the dimly lit hut of Routeburn Falls. There are no lights in the bunkrooms so we fumbled around with a flashlight to collect our gear after our breakfast of oatmeal and dehydrated strawberries. The weather was varying between misting and outright raining but we decided we needed to set out for our next destination.

The walk started immediately with a scramble up some rock faces. I knew today was going to be the biggest climbing day and I was concerned the path was going to remain as challenging – particularly as I was more conscious of my back today. We did keep scrabbling up in the rain for a bit and then it leveled for a while. By this time we were above the tree-line. Our view was very restricted by the mist so we enjoyed the nearby alpine flowers and also not being able to see that the path ahead of us was going up. And up.

Just over the highest point we came to the Harris Saddle Shelter and we dug out the stove and had cooked beans and apple cider. When we left the weather was starting to clear and we got a hint of the mountains. It is a stunning walk and tiring. We were happy when we had a glimpse of our next destination far below us. It still took us at least an hour to descend to it. The route took us along some switchbacks which descended into a forest thick with mosses. A very green world. Bryan and I were both getting fatigued by this point. Tonight we are camping at MacKenzie. We cooked dinner outdoors very similar to last night and shared a table with five young gentlemen from Mexico. This is their first major hiking experience as today they had hiked even further than we had – which they admitted was too far. They were very happy to partake in some of our fruit cake.

And now it is still light out and Bryan is keen to go to bed. We have a bus ticket out to Milford Sound once we reach The Divide which is the track end. We have been rather slow on the trail and time may be an issue. I’ll have to refrain from taking too many photos.