Trip Reports: Fiordland, New Zealand - November 2008

In late November I spent 3 days in the high mountains of Fiordland, based out of a roadside hut and hiking up to some high saddles around there. These mountains here in Fiordland are amazing and probably my favorite that I’ve seen here in New Zealand. The mountains are impossibly steep, with vast sheer glacially-carved rock cirques. Very unique and majestic.

New Zealand, photo

Hiking up to Homer Saddle in Fiordland.

I met some climbers at the hut who invited me to join them on a hike to Homer Saddle where they wanted to do some climbing. Homer Saddle is above the Homer Tunnel which leads to the famous Milford Sound.

climber, Homer Saddle, Fiordland, New Zealand, photo

A climber leads a route on Homer Saddle in Fiordland.

Kea, Fiordland, New Zealand, photo

Kea in Flight

A kea takes flight in Fiordland.

Next I climbed up a fairly large peak directly up valley from Milford Sound, and spent over 12 hours up top soaking in the incredible view. I watched the sunset from up there, then because the snow was still wet from the afternoon heat, I was worried about downclimbing the large, steep, and exposed snowfield. So I waited until 1:00am when the snow was more frozen to descend. It was no problem though, because the weather was calm and I had fun taking long exposures of the southern stars and constellations.

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High over Milford Sound.

Fiordland, panorama, Darran Mountains, Milford Sound, New Zealand, photo

Fiordland Panorama

Sunset in Fiordland, as seen from high up in the Darran Mountains. Mitre Peak and Milford Sound are visible down the valley on the left, the northern Darran Mountains are in the center, and Lake Adelaide on the right. This photo shows the unique and dramatic nature of the Fiordland mountains, with their immense sheer rock faces and deeply cut symmetrical glacial valleys.

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Stars above Fiordland

On the way down from the mountain, I had troubles keeping to the faint trail with only the light from my headlamp, and it actually took me longer to get back to the hut in the valley than it did to climb up! At one point down in the flat valley I got mixed up and literally hiked in a circle, and started to hike back up the valley! D’oh! After figuring out that mistake (and cursing) I got back on track and was almost to the hut when I stepped in what I thought was an ankle-deep puddle (The water was perfectly clear and invisible in the darkness). Thinking it was a puddle, I jumped forward straight up to my waist into a pond! D’oh! Made it back to the hut at 4am, just in time to go to sleep before the sun rose. Good times.

Posted in New Zealand.