Broken Knees on the River: Rees Dart, NZ
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
Location: Mt. Aspiring National Park, Otago Region, South Island, New Zealand
Elevation: 1,461m (4,796ft)
Difficulty level: Advanced
Trail length: 63km (39.2mi)
Elevation gain: 1,153m (3,785ft)
This was was one helluva hike.
On day 1, the first half of the trail winds through pretty farmland.. watch out for cow pies, as well as some intense bogs and marshes. It’s anyone’s guess whether you will have more luck going down a well marked track or off of it - but either way, you will get wet! Guaranteed.
Actually, I didn’t mind the wet boots as much as I thought I would. It was unusually hot weather, and the cold water was pretty refreshing. Each of the huts is near a river, so we went for a dip after every day’s hike and highly recommend it! If you’re super keen you can also go for a nudie, like one of our fellow hikers did. Naked hiking is also apparently big in Switzerland. Anyway, the track was absolutely beautiful.
Unfortunately, both Bob and I injured our knees on the first day (she yanked her leg out of a bog and twisted it, I twisted mine stepping down carelessly from a rock) so we were limping badly most of the way, and didn’t get to do the bonus Cascade Saddle side trip (saw some photos of it though, it looked incredible!)... but we still insanely enjoyed the track. We went through farmland, bogland, up and down valleys, through forests, across grasslands and rivers, up and down mountains… just worlds upon worlds upon worlds of different beauty. Coming down from Rees Saddle in the middle, there are some great views of glaciers.
On the fourth morning, we were pretty dirty and smelly, but not as much as you’d think because we’d been dipping in icy glacial streams like maniacs. We were almost out of chocolate, smokes, and painkillers, our knees were totally fucked, and we were on a balls out mission to get to a jet-boat pickup on the river two hours away so we didn’t have to walk an extra four hours to the carpark with our injured knees… and we were having the time of our lives. And then we hit this morning mist coming through a grassland out of Daley’s Flat Hut (see photo). It was incredibly beautiful. I just got goosebumps writing about it.
Highlights: My friend’s genius idea to dip our heads in every mountain stream to stay cool, me bringing a box of pre-cooked bacon to insert into every day’s lunch, my friend’s ghettoblastin' tunes (she brought portable speakers this time), our icy dips at the end of each day, the insane blanket of stars to gaze at every night, and the morning mist….