Milford Track training week.

We caught the real journeys boat from Te Anau Downs. From there Glade wharf is an hour away. Very cold on deck, learnt some history of the area. Many guides, a couple of lodge staff that missed earlier boat, and a dozen independent walkers who do the track and stay at the Doc huts.
20 minute walk to Glade House where we did a nature to learn some of the plants and features.
Then room allocation, in a bunk room with 3 others. But yay, after a shower Graham and I got upgraded to a twin suite. Very comfy.
A briefing followed, then a very yummy dinner. More briefings.  And bed. Feeling a bit flush, but came to nothing.
Next day, no hot water, teething issues, but all good. Yummy breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon.
Walk to lunch hut. And then on to Pompalona Lodge for a coffee and scone. A bunk room 4 others. And then yes Graham and I got the upgrade again.
We had the walker briefing followed by dinner and a guide briefing. Then some free time, do some stretches, chat with other guides and then an early night, lights out when generator goes off early at 9.30 instead of the usual 10.
Slept well and up for coldish shower, and then bacon and eggs bene. We eat well out here.
Light rain off and on most of day. Starting to question my sanity doind this. But body is holding out so far. All the training is hard going, a lot of stops as we go to learn about different areas in terms of risks, history plants etc…
When we were about 20 mins out from Pompalona Lodge we heard a massive avalanche crashing down the valley further up. And today we saw one, quite high up in the walls of the valley but very cool. We also heard some massive ones this afternoon under the Jervois Glacier. We got into Quinton Lodge about 4.40pm. Dinner was very nice. Again we are feed well. I will cover off some the history around the lodges in later blogs.
We had a quick briefing tonight followed by some free time.TThen bed.
A full day at Quinton Lodge. This started with breakfast, the briefing then with near full packs out Sutherland Falls. Snack break, photo ops, and back to lodge. On the way we had a scenario to deal with. We have come across a barely conscious hiker who is down with a suspect able break.
The training has consisted of many such scenarios, this along with recollections of incidents where they happened along the track has left us all feeling like we can also manage a crisis situation with confidence.
We have a huge amount of support on the track. 3 other guides, Queenstown base and of course the lodge staff.
After our return to lodge we had shelter training and visited an old replica hut built from beech using Old Time tools and techniques by one of the lodge managers, Bill Anderson about 70 years ago. Will do a separate post on him later, quite the charector.
This was followed by more briefings then a welcomed lunch of mince pies, sausage rolls, salads and sandwiches.
Afternoon  was map training, followed by some freetime. I joined about 8 others who headed to a swimming spot for a swim. Very cold beautiful and well worth it.
Dinner that night was fantastic, dory fillets followed by a very nice caramel dessert. We are the test subjects for the lodge staff getting ready for the season. We all happily played our part.
More briefings followed by some free time before the generator goes off. I went to my room early collecting clean and dry washing on the way from the drying room. Pack packed and ready to go I was in bed by 9.40 ready for lights out.

Up at 6, shower and out to make lunch. A table set with bread, meats and spreads along with salads is set up by staff early for walkers and guides to make lunch that we carry on track with us. Breakfast, quick briefing and we are off down the Arthur Valley to Milford Sound.
Rain for the first hour or so. We passed Dumpling Hut, then quick break and boat shed, and on to lunch at Giants Gate waterwall. Lying in the sun eating my lunch. A few brave souls went for a swim. I passed on this today.
Shortly after lunch we did whats called a guide pace mile. In short that is legging it as fast and safely as you can between mile markers. The entire track has a green post with the mile number on it. While this is nice for walkers, for us it means we can safely estimate how long it will take for us to get to another guide if assistance is needed, for example there may be a tricky water crossing that requires 2 guides to assist walkers across at 100 yards past the 6th mile marker, I may have just past the 5th, so the guide waiting knows that he will have assistance in about 15 minutes.
Needless to say sustaining such a pace for a mile is not easy. But we all did it, and have a better understanding of our own and each others abilities.
Sandfly point lived up to its name, another procedures briefing, followed by a boat ride to Milford Town Wharf.
A quick bus ride to Mitre Peak Lodge. A quick briefing given by lodge manager and off to our rooms for a quick shower and some freetime.
We had all shortly gathered into a huge circle of chairs as we chatted, with us all having been dry for 5 days, it had the eary feeling of an AA meeting.
One more presentation, a briefing followed by the bar opening. Then off to dinner. The food was quite brilliant.
I will cover of meals and our involvement in these in later blogs.
We had a great evening, played a game called fish bowl, a great opportunity to get to know the other guides. The last time the Milford guides will all be together for a while. We join the routeburn guides for dinner tonight. But that really will be the end of us all being together, we then start work and there will be guides I may not see again till end of season next April.

Early morning rise again, knee a bit dodgy, breakfast, some un packing of new lodge furniture and another briefing then on to the bus for our return trip to Queenstown. I put on my earphones and turned on music and just watched the beautiful landscapes passby. What a very awesome experience. The skies are clear, the mountains have snow on the peaks. Wow, just so awesome.
For me, I am up at 6.45 tomorrow for a 7.30 departure to join 3 other guides and meet of first 50 walkers all keen to experience one of the most awesome walking experiences in the world, but then I may be bias on that one.


Last town day and heading out.

We spent Thursday morning doing last minute gear purchases. Got a new puffer jacket and a pack liner.

Then it was back to guide house for lunch and chill time.

Then the packing started in earnest. With many guides in the house there was gear, packs and people all over. Short time later we were weighing and finalising contents. Mine weighed in at 11kgs so pleased with that. About middle for the group.

Ate pizza at lake edge fighting off ducks, they are a menace here.

Quiet evening at home, earlyish night.

Woke early, the Routeburn Guides were up first and out by 6.30. Then it was Milford guides turn, we had a later start with a 7.30 departure from house.

Quick briefing at office, we received our guide manuals and reference books. And then on to bus.

As I write this we are travelling next to Lake Wakitipu heading to Te Anau for a lunch break, then on to Te Anau Downs where we get on boat and out of cell range.

We are at Glade House tonight.

Will fully update when we get back.

Last day of “in office” training.

Today we had our last day of training in the office we covered off the workplace manual.

We had a couple of reps from different trusts to talk about the work they are doing,

The first was from the “The Kea Conservation Trust” ( This was a very cool talk about a very awesome bird. We are going to be working with this group to help tag and access the Keas in the Routeburn and Milford track areas.

The second was the “Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust” ( their main focus is to eradicate pests in the general Routeburn dart conservation areas. In doing this they are help the numbers of rock wren, mohua (yellow heads) and one of my favorites, the riflemen recover.  I recommend visiting there site. The company I work for are now working with them on this project and helping with funding.

On a different note, I got my laundry washed and dried. So wee hee clean clothes.

Tonight’s the night my flatmates decided to have a flat warming. They all got dressed up in funny shirts from Salvation Army, put on food and a had a great night. I only stayed for a couple and then headed out for a night walk. Unfortunately I had picked up the wrong head lamp, not bright enough for night hiking,  so only did a short bush walk, and then stuck to street with lights.

Tomorrow we have a break before we head out for our training on the track, we got rosters confirmed today,  I am going out on the first of November so this means I will get back from training on the 31st and have one night at home and straight back out on the track next day so I need to make sure all my kit is ready to go tomorrow because I’m not going to have a chance to fix anything after the training run.

After my first guide trip I have a break of five days and will head home to Auckland for a few days to catch up with family and friends, very happy about this.

First Aid Training.

We spent the day doing first aid training with St Johns. Big group of 60 plus guides. Still meeting new ones.

Caught up with Kelvin who was one of our guides when we did the walk as clients back in March.

Not having the computer to kill time has been a bigger adjustment than would have thought. Reading a lot more, so that is a positive.

Starting to tell people about blog now there is some content.

Living and working down here with such beautiful back drops as the Remarkable Range, Walter Peak, Ben Lomond etc is just crazy. And the lake is stunning.

Went for a walk around part of lake Hayes, again, so picturesque.

Funny thin about Queenstown is most of people here a either young, as in 20 something, or retirees, very few in the 30 – 60 age group. unless you count family groups. And then not a lot of those.

I will do a round up of photos at some point.

We have one more day in the office, then a day off, then we are on the track for training for 6 days. We stay at Glade House, Pompolona for 1 night a piece, Quentin Lodge for 2 nights then Mitre Peak Lodge for one night.

Then it’s out and back to Queenstown. And next day November 1st and start of season, will let you all know when I go out for my first trip as soon as it is confirmed,

We had a quiet evening, flat party tomorrow night, that will be interesting.

Long weekend.

After doing laundry and catch ups with other guides, I loaded up station wagon and headed south.

Drove to Winton via Lumsden and then out to lake Hauroko via Nightcaps and Ohai. Very taken with Ohai, lovely spot.

A couple of other campers at Thicket Burn Camp Ground when I got there.

Sunday drove down to lake and did a 3 hour hike to a look out was awesome. Listened to an audio book on way in.

Stayed in Te Anau a night then home to Queenstown today.

Bit of shopping dried out tent and now catching up on blog 🙂

Went to lake, where it was very busy. Missing home a bit today went to movies saw “A star is born” so so.

Helecopter training.

3rd day of training, Friday we had first part of morning in office with senior guides doing some team work stuff. Then out to airport on bus for helicopter training, this involved learning how to pack a helicopter with tired hikers during bad weather conditions. How to operate safely around them. Was a lot of fun.

Then back to office for physio training, and to get our first aid kits for the summer.

Then off to bar for drink. Seems to be a lot of that.

Pizza on the water front and home to bed.

First Walking Day

After an early rise, we bused out to Routeburn and walked to Routeburn Flats Hut. It was about a 6 hour hike with many stops and a long lunch.

This is a truly beautiful part of the country. I will add photos soon.

Red Rock for drinks after then home.

Quite evening tonight.

Curl up on the bed and read I think.

First day on job.

Spent day in office, got our uniform. Very cool. Photo soon. Afternoon at pub.

Climbed Queenstown Hill. Great views. First walk with company tomorrow.


Last day off

Had a very pleasant day. Caught up on some shopping. Spent some time to myself just wondering around. Went for a walk to look at a climbing walls with one of the other guides. All the other guides have turned up, there’s about 12 in the house I think, couple sleeping in cars. Pretty cool lot of people. Looking forward to tomorrow when we will start training so that’s it really.

First Update. Auckland to now in guide house.

Saturday the 5th was spent getting the house sorted, fixes and chores I had left undone for too long.

Sunday morning I raced around loading stuff, I mean lots of stuff into the station and put kayak on to roof rack. Don’t much like farewells, so quick hugs and Katharine and I where off.

We had a couple of stops along the way and after leaving Auckland about 1, reached Palmerston North at 9pm.

Two night with Mum and Bob, caught up with sister and then a friend and his family. Visited departed family and friends at the cemetery.

Tuesday we left  Palmerston North grabbing a bunch of cheap CDs from the Warehouse, had a quick look for another friends, seems they have moved. Joined the queue for the Bluebridge ferry departing 1.30 from Wellington. Very pleasant crossing, the cabins were great, had showers.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat in Picton, a bit windy so a bit too cold to be site seeing. We reached St Arnaud about 7.30pm found a campsite and set up for the night. Woke freezing cold in Wednesday morning.

On the drive to Fox we stopped for some supplies in Reefton and visited the iSite, very cool exhibit on miming. Stopped for fuel in Greymouth, Katharin was sleeping so we did not stay. The drive to Fox passes a lot of lakes I had no idea were there. Very pretty. It was pouring with rain like I had not experienced for a very long time. We opted not to camp but stayed at the Westhaven Motel. Dinner at the White Pub Hotel and early night.

Thursday saw us drive over Hast pass and into Wanaka and on to Queenstown. We were booked at the Mercure, and quite whacked from travel we had KFC and an early night.

Friday we did the Skyline Gondola where I brought an annual pass. It snowed while we were up there and was absolutely beautiful.

We also had lunch with Kelly in Clyde, very pleasant. My roof rack broke and stranded my Kayak in Clyde.

Saturday we woke to snow on the hills.

We checked out of the hotel and went for ride with Kjet, which was like being a fresh chicken in a freeze blast furnace. Very cold.

2pm dropped Katharine for here flight. Sad to see her go. I spent the rest of the day exploring.  Spent 3 hours at Lake Moke Campsite sorting through what I had brought with me. Got the car a little more sorted and headed to the Mercure for one last night of comfort before moving into guide House.

Sunday I found repco and had no luck with the roof rack. Had lunch in a camp ground, then headed into Queenstown to move into guide house. Was only one here Sunday.

Monday two returning guides arrived while I was sorting my wagon again, putting stuff into storage locker. Midday I got robbed caltex in exchange for lunch, I then got into my walking gear and headed up gondola to be the Ben Lomond Saddle track. Was great to be out for a walk after over a week without walking. My dodgy knee was much better for the rest. It was hot, busy and beautiful.

View from the Ben Lomond Saddle.

On my return the house was full of guides, gear and greetings.

We all went for Pizza at fat badger, shared a 20inch with another guide. Huge, way too much food. Lunch for Tuesday sorted.