Day 151 on the Road
Welcome Rock Trails near Queenstown
Today we are checking out some hidden hiking and mountain biking trails near Queenstown, Welcome Rock!
Today we are gonna hike in the iconic New Zealand tussock landscape with views of the Fiordland.
This is a real early morning for us today we are waking up way before 4 o’clock and hitting the road toward Lumsden. We’re having a very long day ahead of us. We’re having a long drive then we’re having a long hike and then we’re having another long drive. So we are making our way out of Milford Sound as the sun is rising and to be quite honest this is a treat. the scenery is absolutely amazing. And it’s around 10am that we arrive in the little township of Garston where we’re gonna be meeting Tom and Harry.
We are going to Welcome Rock, which is a rock which is going to be welcoming. This is all I know about it so far.
We hop onto Harry’s car and following Tom on a quad bike just because our campervan will not make it on this very torturous road that we’re about to get onto.
We are heading up the Nevis Road to a network of hiking and biking trails called the Welcome Rock Trails. We arrive at the Ski Hut which is where we’re gonna be starting a 27km journey, taking us about 6-8 hours.
We are walking with tom who is the owner of the Welcome Rock Trails and his worker Harry. And Tom tells us that is actually took two years to form these trails by hand himself.
What more, it’s only an hours drive from Queenstown. So if you are staying in the Queenstown area, this definitely a must do.
The scenery surrounding us is looking absolutely amazing. We haven’t been in such landscape since the beginning of our trip. Everything looks super deserted. It looks like a Western movie in fact. Every single grass is looking golden and tussock and there is almost no wildlife around. It’s absolutely amazing.
In fact, we are in a sub-alpine environment which is endemic of this place in New Zealand.
And we are about to figure out why this place is named Welcome Rock. There is a massive rock right in the middle of the mountain. It just stands out out of everything else which is a massive desert and this is what is called Welcome Rock.
And apparently there is something to be found here and Laura just found it.
So since Laura found the bottle of whisky she has to drink it. Maybe not a full shot. Almost a full shot then. That’s the English way of saying …
Tom tells us that the quick story behind the whisky is that workers and traders actually used to hide bottles of whisky up here when they were travelling over the lands. And that tradition has been kept going till now.
While feeling a little bit tipsy from our shots of whisky we head onto our next destination of Welcome Rock which is the Slate Hut and this is actually accommodation where people can come and stay here at about 1,000m high with amazing views out into the mountains in the distance. There’s also an outside bathtub which is pretty awesome.
Continuing along the way, Tom tells us a lot more about what this area has been used for. So it used to be used for gold mining back in the day during the Otago Gold Rush and then from there it’s been used for farming and also for awesome hiking and mountain biking trails.
There’s still evidence of the gold mining era still seen on this track so we are heading next to a waterfall which has been created for a water race which was cut into the hillside to bring water from the mountains which were filled with gold into this area.
Despite this place being one of the only places in New Zealand not featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it definitely feels like we are in the middle of Middle-earth. It feels like Laura and I are part of the Fellowship roaming around the land of Middle-earth right now.
The next pitstop on our journey is the mud hut, this mud hut made of mud was actually built by the people that built the water race that we saw early on. And this very very very authentic mud hut is also one of the accommodation available alongside the Welcome Rock Route.
The Mud Hut is decorated with all these candle sticks there’s old wine bottles, even skulls from animals. It’s pretty rustic to say the least.
And now we’re getting onto the last leg of our trip on the Welcome Rock Trail because we have quite a drive left for today as we’re heading down to Lumsden, we decide to pick up the pace and really speed through this last part of the Welcome Rock Trails but that’s not to say that we don’t embrace the amazing scenery around us. We love how it’s all open scenery here so you can see all the way to the far reaching mountains.
As you can see I am clearly the fittest of the tribe.
Welcome Rock Trail was an awesome surprise we had no idea it existed and we had no idea how awesome it was. But we now have a long drive to the Lumsden Hotel which is the one and only affordable accommodation in the little town of Lumsden.
Milford, sound, Milford, sound, Milford Sound in the sun, rise, Milford Sound in the sun, rise, what? Were you recording that? God.