Zebras, when pursued by hungry carnivores, must only outrun one of their mates to remain alive. Thus I was recently disappointed to find that it was I, that had been outrun, whilst in the cross hairs of an angry beast with a beef to grind. It was my yelp of warning that was my downfall. This provided the instant shot of adrenalin for my son to channel Usain Bolt himself, and he shot passed me like a man possessed. Awesome! Begrudgingly, the parent in me was glad the child was not trampled to death, but that left me, the aged and dispensable – who lacked the super powers required to transcend ankle deep mud in tramping boots – in a rather interesting predicament. As the heaving, breathing, yet to be black leather boots made for me, I managed to stumble the two metres required to place a tiny scrap of a Manuka bush between me and the wild eyed creature. This game of standoff was familiar – a childhood dance played with disgruntled older brothers around lounge room furniture – but one that generally didn’t end in my favour. The bush – my saviour – was grey, spindly and disturbingly small. In my head cowbells clanged, t-boning a gear change in my hippocampus – and flight instincts turned to fight. I flailed my arms and made alarmingly weird squawking sounds like a deranged and angry pelican. This was of course the total sum of my humble display of bravery and an obvious indication to the bull that I was of no immediate threat to his herd. I can’t be sure if he really rolled his eyes, but ultimately, he moved on.
There are of course signs stating “please stay on track to avoid disturbing stock“, but no sage advice on what to do if said ‘stock’ decides to play a fun game of ten-pin bowling with you on the track. Run like fuck? Wave your arms like a madman? Don’t fall over in panic?
It is said that a shot of adrenalin is like a shot of heroine, and if that’s the case I won’t be hunting down the nearest crack house any time soon. My nerve ends were alive with white fire, and my skittery legs strangely developed a mind of their own and the rush of blood through my ears sounding unsettlingly like hoof falls. It took quite a while for my brain to settle back into the mellow and sedate state that usually accompanies a hike through NZ bush.
This weekend I had dragged my son out to Glenorchy, to circumnavigate the Lake Rere loop track – detailed as an easy 4 to 6 hours – that perhaps we left a little too late in the day to start, but after a two hour drive from Queenstown there was no turning back.
The first part of the trail followed a farm fence along the ambit of Wakatipu, and blessed with a picture perfect day, the lake reflected magnificently in my camera lens. Too soon we headed up off the beach at Elfin Bay and inland into the customary red and mountain beech forest, where things took a muddier and more vapid turn. We following what seemed like kilometres of windfall and devastation until finally arriving at tiny Lake Rere Reserve roughly 3 hours into our hike. Lake Rere is a green gem of a thing, a watery wee crib within the valley folds, but with a fading sun and sandwiches long gone, steadfast we soldiered on.
Not long later we suffered the aforementioned close encounter with the irate bovine, and not long after that we joined up to the prettier Greenstone River Track. Then the world turned dark. Our timing seemed perfect, as sunset coincided with our crossing of a large grassy clearing, with the pinks and yellows hanging in the sky amplifying the golden pasture. We hadn’t intended to be out this late, but with a wide trail, full moon and clear skies the darkness added colour and intrigue to our travels. Five hours afoot, we finally returned to our van.
However, we had one more close encounter in store. A morepork. Boldly sitting on the road, as surprised by us, as we by him. He stared momentarily, then floated away. As this was my first wild encounter with a morepork – usually heard, not seen – I was totally stoked!
Steak and chips at the Glenorchy pub made a fitting end to the day.
- Access: 30km from Glenorchy towards Kinloch (gravel road with ford crossings)
- Grade: Easy tramping track
- Time: 4 – 6 hours return
- Accommodation: None. However Greenstone Hut could be made with only an hour detour.
- Map Topo50: Glenorchy CB10