Archives For Routeburn Track

Hut Ranger Evan Smith’s nightly hut talks at Lake Mackenzie Hut have gone a long way to help predator control on the Routeburn Track.

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New Zealand’s mountain peaks, native forests and pristine lakes can now be viewed from anywhere in the world on Google Maps. We go behind the scenes.

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After selling their house in the United States, retired couple John and Jean Strother have been travelling full time. They love to hike and backpack and have had some amazing adventures around the world — including here in New Zealand.

Today we’re sharing with you Jean and John’s experience (and beautiful photos) of the Routeburn Track…

The Routeburn Track: Beautiful beyond words.

Beautiful beyond words

The Routeburn Track, going east to west, starts in Mt Aspiring National Park and crosses into Fiordland National Park.

The Routeburn Track. Photo copyright: John Strother. All rights reserved.

Incredible landscapes

We decided to use huts as there is no camping at Routeburn Falls (we chose to not do the long day required to hike from Routeburn Flats over Harris Saddle to the campground at Lake Mackenzie Hut).

As the Routeburn Track is not a loop, we had to make some transportation arrangements, organising for our campervan to be driven from Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68 km from Queenstown) where we started, to other end of the track at the The Divide Shelter (on the Milford Road, 85 km from Te Anau).

After arriving at the Routeburn Falls Hut (and securing two of the remaining three bottom bunks) we did some exploring in the area, John with camera in hand, as always.

Routeburn Falls. Photo copyright: John Strother. All rights reserved.

Routeburn Falls

The next day we headed toward Harris Saddle, enjoying views of Lake Harris along the way.

Lake Harris. Photo copyright: John Strother. All rights reserved.

Lake Harris

We stopped briefly at the Harris Saddle Shelter and climbed to the top of nearby Conical Hill for still more great views, including bits of Milford Sound and the Tasman Sea in the far distance.

Harris Saddle Shelter. Photo copyright: John Strother. All rights reserved.

Harris Saddle Shelter

John and Jean on top of Conical Hill.

John and Jean on top of Conical Hill

We then descended from the saddle and got our first sight of Lake Mackenzie, as well as the Lake Mackenzie Hut, which is barely seen at the far end of the lake—our destination for the day.

Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

As we descended further, we entered what is aptly called “The Enchanted Forest”…


The Enchanted Forest

Earland Falls seen on the Routeburn Track

Earland Falls

The next day the track took us by Earland Falls…

…before leading to the end of the track where we were happy to see our campervan waiting for us in the parking lot at the Divide.

Read more on panafoot — Jean and John’s blog.

pan-a-foot (păn’ ũh fʊt) v. covering great distances to see more of the world under one’s own power

All of the photos used in this post were taken by John Strother © All rights reserved.

See more of their Routeburn Track photos on Flickr.

A big thanks to Jean and John for giving us permission for us to publish this on the Conservation Blog!

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Programme Manager – Visitor Information, Christine Officer.

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?    

I’m responsible for managing the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre and, in collaboration with others, I oversee the sales and marketing of the three Southern Great Walks, i.e. the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler tracks.

I’m also the DOC link in our local and regional tourism industry—and as part of this, have a role as a board member for Destination Fiordland (the Regional Tourism Organisation). 

Day at the office for a hut ranger – overlooking Lake McKellar, Greenstone Valley

What is the best part about your job?

Well I never wake up thinking “I wish I didn’t have to go to work today!” (that was always an aim for me when looking for a job)… plus I have an awesome view from my office!

Lake Manapouri – view from the end of our street!

What is the hardest part about your job?

I gotta admit that it’s hard to sit in a chair at a computer in an office all day (even if its a nice view), after working outdoors for a good 10+ years. But the people I work with make it fun and worthwhile.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Often a long story… but the turning point for me was living and working for Alpine Guides in Aoraki/Mt Cook during my university holidays, and suddenly realising that it was possible to have a career doing what you love, in a place you love—the outdoors!

Hiking in the French Alps last year

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

It’s over a month ago now, but taking the Air NZ sponsorship team out onto the Milford and Routeburn tracks was a pretty fun and rewarding experience. Dropping the team off by helicopter on a piece of rock, on top of Sutherland Falls (580m) for 20 minutes to soak in the scale of Fiordland and the Great Walk experience made me feel very proud!

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. A hot cuppa tea in a hut after walking in the rain all day
  2. A good New Zealand roadie – freedom at its best
  3. Wearing shorts and runners to work in summer

Loving the outdoors! Awesome DOC girls’ trip – Cascade Saddle, Matukituki Valley

Three pet peeves

  1. Running out of Dilmah
  2. Running out of milk to put in my Dilmah tea
  3. Having to put milk powder in a cup of Bell tea

Three foods

  1. Japanese food
  2. Japanese food
  3. Japanese food

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Fish ‘n’ Chip caravan at Jackson Bay (got taken there by my husband on our first ‘date’ – round trip 586km!)
  2. Lake Manapouri – totally beautiful in any kind of weather
  3. Red Tarns, Aoraki/Mt Cook – a very special place to live

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie: Lost in Translation
  2. Album: Stuck on this one – (makes me realise I need to get my ipod off shuffle)!
  3. Book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Do what you love and what excites you! A formula for happiness.

Best way to get to work – beach landing on Codfish Island

Who or what inspires you and why?

Travel in third world countries always inspires me—seeing happiness, richness and colour in simple basic lives.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always thought having a job on “The Love Boat” seemed like a good idea! The ‘love’ bit escaped me at 10 years old, but the travel and pool looked like fun!

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

Rich enough to not have to work. So I’d probably end up living the same life and still doing stuff for DOC – just doing it for free, and not being as reliant on payday!

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

If you live within half an hour of work, just walk—its good for your mind and body.


Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work ?

A few bike rides to/from work in summer (20 kilometre) wouldn’t go amiss.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A kea—it looks like so much fun! Imagine being that cheeky and being able to get away with it.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

It all starts with awareness and appreciation, so get out there camping in the backyard with the kids. They’ll love you for it.