This spring was filled with short trekking breaks in different parts of Europe and it somehow made me think about New Zealand. One of the most spectacular hikes I did on the South Island was the one called Alex Knob trail. I can tell you this: there is no better view on Franz Josef majestic glacier than from this peak! This was a fantastic day and I can recommend this trail to all hikers. What is was special about it?
A variety of landscapes
I know the magic word ‘variety’ is somehow overused in the case of New Zealand but it is SO true! And I can’t do anything about it. This one day hike brought as many views as these: turquoise sea (The Tasman Sea), rocky shore (West Coast), sandy beach (Okarito Beach), bush and finally glacier (Franz Josef). Now think about Europe and about how many days you should walk to see it all?
The itinerary was straightforward: from the place when the road ends go up. No mountain huts along the roads. Actually spectacular views and nothing else. A welcome sign informed me that the trail is 17 km long and a return walk takes about 8h. And normally I would consider it moderate at most BUT I didn’t have any experience in walking in a bush. And this is completely different! Bush in this case means a forest full of native trees. It is thick, dense, humid and makes an impression of being impenetrable. It looks like my blogger mate Laurence from Finding the Universe found his favorite trekking paths here in New Zealand! Check his post about it. Stunning photos are his specialty.
The good news related to New Zealand was that there is no poisonous animals on this island (no harmful spiders, snakes or scorpions). It cut a huge stress off and made the whole trek enjoyable. But the most difficult part was related to the extreme humidity. Mountains in Europe – vaguely speaking – are high and rocky. If you think about far Lapland or high Dolomites you will get the picture. Even though there are some trees it is rarely humid. But New Zealand is so different! After 3h of very steep climb I was exhausted. The view from the top was rewarding but somehow it made me disappointed that such an effort brought me only at the 1303 masl!
A return way took me less than 8h but it was much more demanding than I expected. This trail was very different also because it was almost completely wild. There are no facilities, no mountain huts. There was a parking space down the road and a welcome sign. And this also makes this trail so different. In New Zealand trekking paths are often like this so I think the tourists should be better prepared and brought all survival stuff with them. Every year there are many foreign tourists being lost in New Zealand because they were unprepared to rapidly changing weather conditions. Think about it before you walk it.
I found Alex Knob trail physically demanding but also extremely rewarding. No other place like this!