May 6, 2013
The weather was improved and I was considering my options for a route to Queenstown. My original plan had been to travel via Mavora Lakes and then catch the Earnslaw across the lake, however I was reconsidering this route based on advise from others. The route past Mavora Lakes was gravel and was very remote with infrequent traffic, reached elevations of over 700 meters, and included two river fords. There had been snow reaching lower elevations for the nights previously and I was unsure of conditions on this route. I prepared as best I could but left Te Anau without a final decision on how to proceed. Once out of town I studied the peaks relative to my topographical map to estimate how far down the hills the snow had progressed and concluded that there was snow on peaks as low as 600 meters. When I arrived at the turn off to Mavora Lakes I stopped to study the maps and the previous weather forecasts. It was not long before a local farmer Max arrived at the intersection to drop off a trecker that had been traveling Te Arareo which is a 3000 kilometre route than runs the length of New Zealand. This French trecker, Olivier Moly, had been traveling Te Arareo since December 1 and this day was the first time he had accepted a ride. He said that the previous night was the coldest he had ever experienced and he was abandoning the balance of his trip down the island for that reason. Olivier has a web site describing his trip if you want to read further on his travels. (Read especially his blog from his travel the night before I met him on the road http://throughteararoa.com/2013/05/17/day-157-6052013-kiwi-burn-swingbridge-to-te-anau/). The farmer Max suggested that if I had camped at temperatures below 0 before and was going to be down the other side on Tuesday, I should be fine and it would be a memorable trip. He said there had been some rain and the creek was running so believed the fords would be about knee deep which he did not think would be an issue. To me the cold was not an issue but new snow or crossing an especially deep ford might have been. In the end I decided to take the safe but less scenic route and travel towards Queenstown by highway. I have attached some photos from that day but if want to see what I missed I suggest you go to Olivier's web site through the link above. One piece of equipment that Olivier had which I did not is a “Spot” satellite beacon.