Grand Traverse Pg 2

Day 4 – Lake McKellar Lodge  to Lake Mackenzie Lodge

After breakfast, we hiked north into Fiordland National Park along Lake McKellar. In another hour of walking, we crossed Greenstone Saddle and arrived at Lake Howden.

After lunch at Lake Howden Hut, and leaving our backpacks at the Hut, we trekked up to Key Summit. At the summit we had breathtaking views of rugged peaks, Greenstone and Eglintopn Valleys.


After coming down from Key Summit, we hiked up the mountain to the base of the magnificent 80m high Earland Falls.

We took a break at The Orchard, named for a grove resembling apples trees. From here, the trail ascended steeply and then descended to Lake Mackenzie Lodge where we stayed for a night.

Lake Howden

At Key Summit

Earland Falls

Hollyford valley

Day 5 – Lake Mackenzie Lodge to Routeburn Falls Lodge

Today, we left the picturesque forest around Lake Mackenzie and the track zigzagged up to Hollyford Face. The open terrain provided extensive and scenic views of the Valley.

The undulating walk along the most exposed section of the Hollyford Face led us to the Harris Saddle where we stopped for lunch. From here there was an optional trek to Conical Hill for those who were still fit after lunch. I opted out and instead I took a nap!

After a short nap, KC and I continued our trek while Kenny and many others were still on their way to Conical Hill. After passing through the Saddle, we climbed around Lake Harris before dropping into the Routeburn Valley. We were told there was an avalanche area beyond Lake Harris. Fortunately the trail was clear and open. It was a steep descent from there and we soon reached Routeburn Falls Lodge located in a beautiful mountain setting.

During dinner and after a sumptuous main course, the Guides, Tom, Renee and Rina introduced us to their traditional pancake toss for our dessert. Two walkers were to take turn with a plate each to catch the pancake tossed by two Guides with their backs facing them. It was not an easy task to catch the flying pancake on the plate as one would not know how fast and high the pancake would reach you. However, I was lucky to catch mine and it was the most delicious pancake I had ever eaten in my life!


Sunrise seen from Mackenzie Lodge


River in Hollyford Valley flows through Fiordland to Tasman Sea

Trek through Harris saddle

Lunch at Harris Saddle Shelter

A nap outside the Harris Saddle Shelter

Day 6 – Routeburn Falls to Road End

The sixth and last day was a pleasant half day hike. It started with a steep and rocky descent. The trail then moderated before coming to Routeburn Road End for lunch.

After lunch, the bus took us back to Glenorchy where we unwound in a pub. A simple presentation of certificate of achievement ceremony was held before continuing to Queenstown arriving around 4.30pm.

This ended our memorable Grand Traverse Track!


Scenic Landscape in Routeburn Flats

Easy trek to Routeburn Road End

Lunch at End of Gramd Traverse

Happy Hour in a pub in Glenorchy

Certificate Presentation in a pub in Glenorchy

C.  Epilogue

The Grand Traverse Guided Walk is my most pleasant experience in trekking. Experience in an alpine trek which goes through World heritage Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Park – two of the most superb walking areas, is an experience that I will always remember.

This is an all-inclusive 6-day trip where at the end of each fantastic day one can relax in comfortable lodges in scenic locations, and enjoy hot showers and delicious meals. Besides the stunning landscapes we went through, I was very pleased with all meals, lodging and conveniences provided by Ultimate Hikes.

The lodges have been purpose designed and built with everything flown in by helicopter. They are fully furnished with all modern conveniences and facilities including generated electricity (until 10pm each night) and internal heating. Each bedroom can accommodate 4-6 people in comfortable bunk beds with duvets and pillows.

The meals were plentiful and delicious. In the morning, hot cuppa would be ready by about 7.00am followed by breakfast consisting of a selection of fruit and cereal and a full cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs.  At the dining hall in the morning, the guides would lay out everything for all the walkers to make their own picnic lunch – a delicious sandwich, fruit and energy snacks. Lunch would be taken in a half-way hut where a hot drink would be waiting for the walkers when they stop. When walkers arrived at the Lodge after the day’s walk, a snack and cold drink would be available. For dinners, a three-course meal would be served which would consist of homemade soup, traditional NZ main, fresh garden salad followed by dessert (including flying pancakes!), tea and coffee. Also available for purchase was a selection of NZ wine and beer.

For all the delicious food and excellent services provided during the 6-day trip, we must thank our guides for their diligence and hard work. From Day 1 to Day 3, all the food was carried by the guides in their backpacks. At Steele Creek Lodge and McKellar Lodge, which were not occupied and maintained by caretakers, they would prepare our dinners, breakfasts and lunches, besides maintaining lodges after the walkers had left. However, from Day 4 to day 6, food supplies were flown in by helicopter. But the guides had to prepare and cook all the meals with the assistance of the lodges’ caretakers. 

To our amazing guides and fellow trekkers, a big thanks for such a terrific time!  This New Zealand adventure is indeed my ultimate hiking experience!

END                                                                                                                   E&OE


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