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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 246: A beautiful day on Lake Rotoiti

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 8 July 2008 | Views [1135]

One of the most incredible sights of my trip: Lake Rotoiti at (an extremely cold) dawn

One of the most incredible sights of my trip: Lake Rotoiti at (an extremely cold) dawn

Tuesday 8th July

I was up at 06.00, woke myself properly with a shower and got changed before heading down into the cold of the kitchen to make some breakfast and prepare my lunch and a few snacks for the days trek. Most of the hostels we had stayed in had been warm, and a good place to get out of the cold and wet of the New Zealand winter, but the 'Yellow House' was a chillier place and we usually ate meals in the dining room there with steam coming out of our mouths. However, the rooms had been very warm and the beds one of the most comfortable I have slept in, and I would take a warm bedroom along with a cold kitchen over the opposite any day.

We were out the door shortly before 08.00 as the sun was starting to come up and changing the colour of the mountains that surrounded us. We drove down to the edge of Lake Rotoiti and saw one of the most incredible sights of this trip: mist sitting above the lake and the sunlight reflecting off the snow-covered mountains to give a pinkish glow to the whole scene. New Zealand had thrown up another beautiful image, the like of which I had not seen anywhere else, and I stood there for a few minutes to enjoy it in the silence of the morning.

It was also absolutely freezing, by far the coldest I had experienced in NZ. It was so cold that my naked hands were starting to hurt with the bite of the frost, while Thomas announced that it was just too much for him, that he would be sitting this particular hike out and returning to the warmth of the hostel. I had no intention of skipping this trip but was going nowhere until I got some protection for my hands, so we returned to the hostel to drop Tom off and for me to pick up a few pairs of socks to stick over my hands. I hadn't yet bought any gloves, considering it a pointless purchase given that normal sized gloves wouldn't fit over the cast on my right arm. The improvised gloves did the trick, however, and Danika and I marched off in a clockwise direction around Lake Rotoiti, a walk that we figured would take us about 7-8hours.

After we got moving, we started to warm up and we made steady progress along the track. A line of trees obscured the view of the lake for much of the first part of the track, but we were able to stop off on some of the rocky promintories by the lakeside to take some photos of the wonderful landscape and some macro shots of the frost-covered ground; New Zealand looked as pretty in close-up as it did on a normal scale. There was noody else on the track and the day was just getting better weather-wise.

However, we got a bit of a chill when we had to take off our shoes and socks and wade through the freezing cold water of a river that fed into Lake Rotoiti. It was a short crossing of only ten metres or so, but long enough for me to feel a numb pain in my legs and feet. As usual, it got the circulation going and we dried off with our backs to another stunning alpine picture. We stopped off at the Coldwater Hut on the edge of the lake for lunch.

We set off on the return journey on the western side of Lake Rotoiti and the track got even easier on this side, with soft ground aided by some spongy moss making it all very comfortable underfoot. We got talking to some passersby, a group of schoolkids or scouts, who looked like they were being dragged along on this excursions by older and more enthusiastic leaders. They looked a tad damp, and they explained that they had come from a stretch of track that was covered by overhanging fur trees, their branches heavy with snow, which was beginning to melt in the afternoon sun, with the effect that it was like walking through a shower.

We carried on without the slightest sight of anything but the most pleasant walking track and could start to make out in the distance the parking lot where we had left the car and started our trek earlier in the day. Then we were forced to take a left up a slight slope and we continued away from the lake, and along a path that was taking us away from where we wanted to go. Then we came across this natural tunnel that we had been told about; it had been made by inwardly hanging trees and the melting snow meant that, any time you brushed by a tree, it dumped a shower of cold water all over you. We had to walk hunched over, and try and slalom our way through this passage in order to minimise the damage caused by these long drips of water. After about half an hour of this, we were starting to get very wet and fed up of this part of the track. We eventually got back onto a main road and walked back to the carpark, slightly wet but also very happy with our walk.

It had been another fantastic hike, not physically demanding, but a decent excursion which had exposed us to some of the best that NZ can offer. We were back at the hostel by 16.00, shortly after which we made dinner, warmed ourselves beside the fire and watched a bit of TV. I did a bit more work on my journal in an upstairs lounge, glad to have somewhere comfortable and quiet to do some writing.


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