The first three days of the walk a predicted storm came in full force, inches of rain per day was likely an accurate forecast. The ranger at the visitor center told me the walk would be "character building"
The only solace to such conditions were the huts, which had fireplaces to warm up and dry things in the evenings
I did a combination of the Northwest Circuit and Southern Circuit over eight days going from Oban to Doughboy Bay (78 miles plus side trips). Pictured above is my first experience with a three wire bridge near the Yankee River hut
Sunrise above East Ruggedy Beach
Rugged Islands from the hill in the northwest corner
The beaches on the walk are stunning, particularly on the north and west sides of the island
Stewart Island offers a good chance to see a kiwi, a nocturnal bird in most of New Zealand, yet they have enough freedom on the island to roam day and night. The four I came across on the trek were all during daylight hours
A rather blind and helpless bird, but a symbol for New Zealanders. I felt like they couldnt notice me unless I made noise, one even stepped on my foot. They are said to have a great sense of smell and are the only bird with nostrils at the tip of their beak.
My greatest memory from the circuit was running down this 700ft sand dune to Big Hellfire beach and taking a cold jump into the ocean
Big Hellfire Pass
Hard to think about the island without mud coming to mind, the west side from Ruggedy to Doughboy having the worst of it
The huts were often empty, would use a double mattress for comfort. When I did meet a fellow tramper, the conversion would often revolve around the mud and which shade of brown was the worst. A couple developed a grading system, ranking it between one-step mud and five-step mud based upon the effort required.
Bog on Adams Hill
The tracks are well marked throughout, a basic map with locations of the huts is all that is needed
Arch at Doughboy Bay
I was told the huts on the Southern Circuit may become hunters huts in the near future (2018), was glad to have done the walk when I did
Sunset on the final night from the hill above "The Gutter"
Flight back to Invercargill
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro National Park was the setting for Mordor in Lord of the Rings. I did about half of the 12 mile crossing, giving priority to climbing Mt Doom, the endpoint of Frodo and Sam's quest (10 miles return, 4500ft gain)
I soon realized that this trip was more adventurous than just a walk through a cave. We were harnessed in a couple times, did some rock climbing up around a waterfall, and there was a mandatory jump off a ledge down into a pool.
The Shire (Hobbiton Movie Set)
The creeks required crossing on the way up from the morning rain, but had returned to normal levels and could be skipped across on the return hike. Ropes are there for assistance when climbing to Black Lake and the summit. On a clear day, there are views of Milford Sound from the summit.
Mueller Hut (Mt Olliver)
I caught a snowstorm on the way up and was glad to reach the safety of the hut (6.3 miles, 3800ft gain). May is probably too late in the season to do this hike, the roads to the west coast were shut down from the storm. The popular Hooker trail and scrambles up the ridges around Mt Cook are also possible here.
Abel Tasman Trek
May was a great month for this trek, the temperature was comfortable in the 50-60s and sandflies were nonexistent. One of the sunnier places in New Zealand, a nice break from the rain in the south