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Tasmania / South Island NZ
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Andrew Jennings
(breaktheshoal) - MLife

Locale: West of the Mississippi
Tasmania / South Island NZ on 05/19/2013 23:19:48 MDT Print View

Hey all,

I haven't been very active on BPL since I quit my desk job last May, but once again I am turning to the site that damn near cost me that desk job in order to maximize my time when I head to Tasmania and New Zealand this coming November - December. Before I get to my specific questions a little background might be helpful...

After spending six months backpacking around the western US I moved to Australia on a Work and Holiday Visa in March of this year. While I had hoped to find a 4WD vehicle to loop the country, when a $600 Ford Falcon station wagon fell in my lap I considered it destiny and altered my course accordingly. So now I have replaced the Gibb River Road with the Red Center (Larapinta Trail FTW!) and will be hiking/working where I can until winter loosens its grip on the southern hemisphere by the end of October.

I am planning on booking my reservations to do the Overland Track in Tazzy when the reservation system opens July 1st. Seeing how I don't have that desk job anymore my dates are pretty flexible, but I was planning on arriving in early November and have pondered adding the South Coast Track to my itinerary before leaving for NZ. With those two treks in mind I wanted to allow myself about 3 weeks in Tazzy before heading to Queenstown. The South Coast Track is a real question mark for me because I intend to do it like all of my hikes: alone. Considering how remote it is I might wait to see if I can find someone to go with me, but there are plenty of hiking opportunities to fill up my time there in the event I chicken out.

So first question: Other recommended hikes in Tasmania beside the Overland and South Coast Tracks?
Second question: Does anyone have advice on travel to NZ from Australia? Would it be cheaper to return to Sydney and then fly to Queenstown or would it be better to fly straight out of Hobart?

Once I arrive in Queenstown I already have some firm dates on the calendar:

December 6-9: Kepler Track
December 9-10: Hang out in Te Anau/Get supplies ready for Milford & Routeburn Tracks
December 11-14: Milford Track (spending the night of the 14th at Milford Sound Lodge)
December 15-17: Routeburn Track

I probably should have asked for pre-trip planning advice before making my reservations, but considering how fast the Great Walks book up I went ahead and pulled the trigger on all three while there was space available and I had access to WiFi. Currently, I haven't booked my flight into Queenstown and transport into Te Anau, nor have I booked any transport/accommodation after I complete the Routeburn. Considering my plans for Tasmania it would appear that the most sensible plan would be to fly into Queenstown and head straight to Te Anau right before I start the Kepler, but I could be wrong with that assumption (maybe try to squeeze something in on the front end?)...

Third question: Other hikes in Fiordland/Mt Aspiring that I need to add to the list?
Fourth question: I want to check out Arthur's Pass NP while I'm in NZ. Best hikes in the area?

I think I should mention that I prefer high alpine hikes over all else, so that should maybe help guide the recommendations accordingly. After reading some other threads on BPL I went ahead and picked up Jim Dufresne's Tramping in NZ (Lonely Planet), and while extremely helpful, it really requires some digging to find what I'm looking for: above the tree line trekking. As for other factors... My time will only be limited by my passport (90 days), but I am a backpacker after all so my finances are finite. I don't really care if I go back to the States with little/no money, but when I hear stories of how wonderful and cheap SE Asia is I can't help but wonder if I could make that a stop on my way back to the States (roughly the beginning of March). So yeah, lots to consider but any advice is welcome!

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Start driving on 05/20/2013 06:32:32 MDT Print View

Dont let anyone tell you that you can't take a Falcon wagon up the Gibb River. It's corrugated and pretty sandy, but that's all. Its a few years since I was up there, but when I rode it, there were a couple of guys driving it in an old Austin. You may not get up onto the Mitchell Plateau, but you could always hitch that section.

Having said that, there's some pretty nice walking in Kakadu that's accessible by 2wd.

As for Tassie, I would think about walking into the Walls of Jerusalem. Great walking, less people, more relaxed. Also, you can link from there across to the bottom section of the Overland. It's legal and free. You're only required to book and pay on the Overland if you're coming in from Cradle. If you come in from anywhere south of there, you're fine.

Are you planning on taking the car over to Tassie with you? It will def be cheaper to fly from Sydney to NZ, but maybe not enough to justify getting from Hobart to Sydney. I would sign up for Jetstar, Qantas and AirNZ alerts, and grab a cheap flight as soon as you see one come up. You have plenty of time.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
Re: Tasmania / South Island NZ on 05/20/2013 17:10:48 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

Some other trips in the Fiordland/Aspiring well worth considering:
- Rees-Dart with a side trip to Cascade Saddle
- Hollyford Track
- Dusky Track
-Stewart Island is also pretty cool, much prefer the NW loop or SW loop over the great walk though
- Matukituki valleys, East and West
- Wilkins/Youngs loop track with sidetrip to Gillespie Pass

Mt Cook is well worth visiting
- Mueller Hut

Around Arthur's Pass
- Mingha-Deception
- Avalanche Peak-Crow River
- 3 Passes route
- Harper Pass route
- Edwards to Otehake or Hawdon routes

A bit further north I would highly recommend Nelson Lakes NP
- Travers-Sabine with side trip to Blue Lake/Waiau Pass
- Lake Angelus

Also Wlecome Flats on the West Coast, Kaurangi NP (Heaphy great walk amongst many others) and Abel Tasman NP for a bit of R n' R. There is a lifetime of tramping in the South Island (not to mention the North Island). I've just listed a few of my favourite trips, most of them are fairly or well known, so getting more information/transport shouldn't be too much of a drama.

A couple of sites worth checking out:

Apart from the great walks, buy a 6 month annual hut pass from DOC, much cheaper than using hut tickets.

Be prepared for rain and sandflies!

Andrew Jennings
(breaktheshoal) - MLife

Locale: West of the Mississippi
Thanks for the insight... on 05/20/2013 20:00:13 MDT Print View

@ Rod

I had my suspicions about the Gibb because I have heard completely contradictory opinions as to how my Falcon would hold up in the Kimberley. Sadly, the Kimberley was the area of Australia that I was most excited to visit when I first arrived here, but as I mentioned in my first post a $600 Falcon was too good a deal to pass up. So while I had initially planned on looping the country my current itinerary has me leaving the Fleurieu Peninsula (I'm writing this post from Port Elliot) and heading north through the Flinders, Coober Pedy, Uluru & Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and eventually a Larapinta through-hike of the MacDonnell Ranges. That should keep me busy for the next 5-6 weeks, but once I get back on the road out of Alice I will have to decide whether to head north or east when I hit Tennant Creek.

Up to this point I had planned on heading east to Townsville because I have some leads on work when I get there, but the main reason I was thinking of passing up on Darwin/Kakadu/Gibb/Broome/etc was due to the limitations of my transport. That's a lot of money in petrol if I can only scratch the surface of the best spots that the NT and WA have to offer. Another limitation of my Falcon is the registration. I'm sure you're aware that registration in Australia is outrageously expensive and thus I was hoping to sell my car right before mine expires (October 15th). Since that date lines up well with my plans for arriving in Tasmania by the beginning of November I figured being closer to Brisbane or Sydney would provide me with a better market of potential buyers (backpackers) than Darwin or Broome. That said, work should be the major factor in my decision-making process. I was hoping to get $1,200 (I've put $1,500 into it to get it roadworthy) for the Falcon if I sell it with no rego, so maybe I'm making a mistake in letting the Falcon dictate my travel plans from July onwards. I have been told that work is easy to find in the NT, Kimberley and Broome so your insight on the Gibb definitely changes things...

As for Tassie, thanks for the Walls of Jerusalem insight! Just googling the pictures makes me giddy with anticipation to get my DSLR out there. One question though: Does picking up the OT via the Walls of Jerusalem/Never Never mean that I will be cutting out a portion of the OT? I know that it shouldn't be important but I hate the idea of missing any part of a trail like the OT even if it means that I have to endure crowds to do so. When I pass through Adelaide I will see if I can pick up a map to visualize the route, but I can't seem to answer this question with Google.

@ Barry

Thanks for that list! I've got my Tramping NZ book next to me and will start looking through each one to see what others I need to add to my itinerary before departing the country. After a quick glance in my book it seems like Arthur's Pass is a must for someone of my preferences. What intrigues me the most about the area is the number of day hikes at my fingertips. I had always been more of a traditional backpacker until a bunch of mice moved into my car during an overnight in Yellowstone; a fortuitous event that pushed me to embrace the benefits of day hiking (namely increased range and decreased liability of my valuables being stolen at the trailhead).

As for the sandflies, any advice on how to mitigate that problem? It seems like DEET is the best way to go but I absolutely loathe putting that on my skin.

Chris Kannen
(cmkannen) - MLife

Locale: K-T Boundary
Gertrude Saddle, Fiordland on 05/20/2013 21:39:45 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

To answer your question about more to do around the Fiordland area: if you have a half day around the Milford sound area, I would recommend hiking up Gertrude Valley. Really spectacular day hike. The Mueller Hut near Mount Cook is also great.

Andrew Jennings
(breaktheshoal) - MLife

Locale: West of the Mississippi
Gertrude Valley on 05/20/2013 22:07:34 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris!

I think I will be able to check that out. My bus for the divide (to start the Routeburn) doesn't leave until 2:30 so I think that will leave me plenty of time to run up (not literally) to the top of Gertrude Valley before I leave Milford Sound.