Breathing Fiordland

I arrived in October to work for the Department of Conservation in Te Anau. It wasn’t an easy move to say the least and it didn’t get any easier, I just got used to missing the people I love. Stepping into the arrivals lounge I was tackled, hugged and kissed by my relatives who I was going to get to know throughout the coming months. After a hospitable stay with them I moved down to Te Anau to settle in to the house and job. Te Anau is literally the corner of the world and it is stunning and undisturbed. The job started off hard, it got easier and started to come naturally. I was sorting hikers onto the world famous tracks: Milford, Kepler and Routeburn.

As the months went on I got to know the area well and my fitness got good. Favourite tracks were usually long day hikes (5-12 hours) these included Gertrudes Saddle, Mt. Burns, the Routeburn, Luxmore, Lake Alabaster and many more. Its a very harsh environment, very unforgivable and unfortunately I got to know that as time went on and more tragedies happened. Your safety is your responsibility and there is no such thing as bad weather but there is bad equipment, wet feet are the norm and blisters are the least of your worries.  Don’t even try shifting the blame, do the research particularly on weather and forecasts. The impermeable granite cliffs caused river levels to rise and fall extremely fast. As the hut warden of Mintaro says “if you hear and avalanche/rock slip, dont run, you’ll only die tired!”. But the tracks are a haven for beautiful birds such as the fantail, rifleman, weka and sometimes kiwi (if you’re lucky).

8 months at DOC Te Anau – a great place to work, I had a great boss and a tight team. I bagged myself a job on Treble Cone for the winter so I said my goodbyes and moved on.

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