Duke of Ed: Fiordland Report

Monday 2nd October 2023

As it is in the outdoors, even the best-laid plans can go awry sometimes. A planned trip to the Greenstone Mavora Walkway was cancelled due to predicted heavy rain, gale-force winds and snow. So the group returned to the safety of a trail well-known to many McGlashan lads.

DoE: Kepler - Iris Burn Falls.
DoE: Kepler - Iris Burn Falls.

Day 1

From the Control Gates to Rainbow Reach car park, we started on what would be one of the most entertaining and fulfilling tramps of our lives. Starting gently, the group enjoyed a gentle stroll along the first part of the track. There were majestic beech trees on our left, which were tall enough to reach the stars and to the right was a lake so calm and pristine. Our nostrils filled the earthy sense of the flora around us. Our route took us along the course of the Waiau River, where the water flowed gently beside us. 15km later, we reached Lake Manapouri; it was such a beautiful sight to see, with the distant snow-capped mountains in the background. Our first night was at Moturau Hut, a peaceful lakeside hut with the most breathtaking views. It was an enjoyable night full of laughter, Uno and K’s and A’s.

DoE: Kepler - Morning views at Moturau Hut on the side of Lake Manapouri. — Image by: Donna Smith

Day 2

The next day, we left Moturau Hut with lots of energy following a good night's sleep. This time, our trail was muddy. It was a pain trudging along the never-ending track. However, the view along the journey was worth it. Along the track, we saw beautiful wildlife; two colourful keas sat on a log, pecking for food. 

DoE: Kepler — Image by: Donna Smith

From there, our path then descended into the Iris Burn Valley, where the track closely followed the roaring river. The track was like a snake winding around the base of the valley. After what felt like ages, we reached the Iris Burn Hut. This was another hut with breathtaking views and nestled in a peaceful forest clearing. This is where we spent our second night. We took the walk up to Iris Burn Falls, which was quite relaxing after lugging our packs for two days. We were lucky enough to see three whio (blue ducks) playing in the rapids. During the night, we gathered in the kitchen to enjoy another few rounds of Uno.

DoE: Kepler - Morning views from Iris Burn. — Image by: Donna Smith

Day 3

The final day of our tramp was set to be a challenging one. We were expected to walk two days’ worth of tramping in one day, which would be 22.89 km. We started earlier than usual to complete this challenging tramp. Our first break was at a shelter, where we stopped to have morning tea. This was about halfway back to the Moturau Hut. We were already feeling tired, and the pain in our feet was starting to slowly take over our minds. It would have been so easy for us to give up, but we kept going till the end with no complaints. To be honest, I think the main motivation was the McDonalds waiting for us in Gore once we were on the way back home. We arrived at the Moturau Hut around lunchtime, and we were welcomed by pesky sandflies. With only 8 km remaining, we were hopeful, and this kept us going.

The crossing of the Rainbow Reach Bridge marked the end of the tramp. Once we were on the other side of the bridge, we looked back with a sense of appreciation and accomplishment. Amazing group photos were taken at the Rainbow Reach bridge, marking the end of our wonderful adventure! 

DoE: Kepler - Tom, Matt, Luke and Maita cross the Rainbow Reach Swing Bridge at the completion of their three-day, two-night excursion. — Image by: Donna Smith

We really enjoyed this tramp as it allowed me to appreciate the beauty of nature that we would not usually enjoy in our busy day-to-day lives. It was a great experience to miss three days of school to go tramping with my mates. This trip allowed us to enjoy the beauty of New Zealand landscapes, from dense forests to peaceful lakeshores and the simple joys of being outdoors.

DoE: Kepler - Starting at the Control Gates in Te Anau.