Continuing the Routeburn, and cresting Harris Saddle, we dropped down toward Harris Lake and the most profoundly beautiful view of the trip. No photo (of mine, at least) could begin to replicate what we saw looking across Harris, toward the Valley of the Trolls. A distant ribbon of water fell from the heights at the other side of a great cirque, dropping from Lake Wilson, the headwaters of the Routeburn itself. The Hobbits meet the Nordic gods. We all ratcheted our jaws up from the ground and snapped away. Others may have captured some vague sense of the sight, but as far as I’m concerned, you had to be there. (So go!)

The Routeburn Falls Hut, the last trail accommodation of this great trip, sits, oddly enough, next to Routeburn Falls.

It was was the newest and grandest hut we stayed at.

The final walk out took us over swaying suspension bridges, across the magical, turquoise Bridal Veil Stream, and through an old forest of mountain beech.

We finished our trip with a day in Queenstown, during which others did interesting and adventurous things and I wandered around sampling beer. The next day, we were off to Auckland, where the rest of the group headed home, and I … didn’t. Another side of New Zealand was calling.


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