A Step Up
The Greenstone Track
There are three legs to the Greenstone Track: from Howden to McKellar; from Mckellar to Greenstone, and from Greenstone to the Carpark on Lake Wakatipu.
We travelled from Howden to McKellar, down to the Greenstone, and then detoured down the Mavora Walkway, returning a day or so later to complete the last leg of the Greenstone beginning at the Carpark.
Until a few years back, the Greenstone was served by the McKellar Hut, the Mid Greenstone Hut and the Slyburn Hut. The Mid-Greenstone Hut was sold to the Deerstalkers Association, and a new, large hut, the Greenstone, replaced the old Slyburn Hut
Instead of walking 12 km approximately from McKellar to the Mid Greenstone, trampers were obliged to travel an extra 6-8 km (depending on information source) to reach the new hut. For the elderly and stout, this 20km leg takes it up a step from the average walking track. You need to prepare thoroughly for this, or leave it alone. It's not steep, but it does require that you pay attention to your feet, and the track is in places rocky and root-ridden.
DoC estimates 4hr 30 to 6 hr 30 for this leg. Fatman time is 9hr 30, including about 30 minutes accumulated breaks. For the last three hours, I was far too tired to appreciate the beauty of this lovely valley. In fact, some aspects of it are emerging only now as I review the photos, the later ones taken largely on automatic.
The trip down from Howden to McKellar, though, is a delight. Much of the bush is just as lush as yesterday's coming up to Howden, the grades are easy and the track is in good shape.
The DoC estimate is 2 hours. Fatman time for this leg was 3hr 40, including breaks.
We set off through the same combination of crown fern and houhere that greeted us yesterday.
Carol and Mike are leaving us part way along, heading up to the Mckellar Saddle and down to the Upper Caples Hut, then tackling the much sterner Steele Creek track over a couple of days, and rejoining us at the Greenstone.
Vegetation is lush, fed by many small streams.
The track is narrower than yesterday's, but still comfortable walking.
The hanging lichen here and there reminds me of the first part of the St James last year. A small makomako underneath it all finds its way towards the light.
Everywhere along the track a lush carpet of moss covers the ground at either side.
Fallen trees rot swiftly in this environment, are covered themselves in moss and provide a rich nursery for a new generation of plants.
Down below, Lake Howden reflects the morning sun back up to us.
A tiny orchid is there to be seen by the attentive walker
Ferns and mosses continue to define the path. Filmy ferns, hymenophyllum, are particularly features.
We continue beside the lake, a fairly regular up and down, but quite gentle.
Some of the moss is quite startling.
The lushness continues, with some striking contrasts.
Here's a moss that's new to me.
This below is almost certainly a fern, too, though, again, it is one I don't know the name of.