Day 18: Mosquito hunt and walk until you fall

Sandflies are a curse on west coast, but the last two nights they were not our only concern. Sandflies don’t like dark so they leave us be after dusk. In Queenstown and Te Anau though they changed shifts with mosquitos. Once sandies stopped biting, mosquitos took over. When we arrived at campground in Queenstown it was already dark. We were so chilled out we did not suspect insect attack of any kind. Sandies were asleep and mosquitoes were quite rare. We were so wrong. We left the door open for literally 5 minutes and we let some fifty of them inside. Needless to say we had an enjoyable mosquito hunt before going to bed. The same happened the night after at Te Anau. That night though Ale kept waking up at night to kill every mosquito in sight. He probably woke up all the other camperists with his banging and swearing. Every time he thought he killed the last one, he heard another one buzzing next to his ear. I didn’t care much about the buzzers and after few hours I thought I’d do to Ale what he was doing to mosquitoes. It was all the more frustrating that we had a 10h hike planned to the day after and had to get up at 6am. It was a hell of a night.

When the alarm clock rang we were relieved that the night was over. Tired from not getting enough sleep, we prepared for all day of walking and drove to the track car park. Kepler walk is one of the Great Walks and it takes 4 days to complete the whole route. We couldn’t afford spending so much time in there and had to satisfy ourselves with 10h intense taster. Knowing that the track was long and steep we marched like Powerade bunnies. We had such a good pace that we went up and down in 7 hours instead of 10. We walked up to Luxmore Hut where hikers normally spend their first night. The views from there were remarkable. The mountains in Fiordland are quite different two whose we have seen so far in NZ. They seem more moody, dangerous and unpredictable. In fact Fiordland is known for it’s ferocious weather. Many got stranded or died there unprepared for sudden weather change. Apart from Kepler Track there are two more stunning multi-day treks in Fiordland – Milford Track and Routeburn Track and we promised ourselves one day we’d come back to do them all.

Coming down from Kepler Track we got so tired from the fast pace that the last 5km seemed like an eternity. The legs felt like made of cement and didn’t want to carry us any further. We made it to the van though and as a treat, we spoiled ourselves with a night at a four star campground.
As soon as we checked-in we were so excited about the amenities that we forgot all about tired legs and backs and started cleaning the van, doing laundry and washing dishes. Once that was done we had hot endless shower. No time limit, music on the radio, sweetly scented… it was one of the most sacred moments in our daily life in NZ. We took shower twice that night and once more in the morning. And there was not a single mosquito all night and only two sandies that must have got lost. Oasis. Pity it costs so much.

It is funny how travelling sorts out priorities and simplifies life. Apart from visiting awesome places, our every day routine rotates around buying food, finding bathroom, throwing away rubbish and finding place to sleep. Things that we used to take for granted, like hot shower and electricity are such a luxury that it feels special when we have access to them. It makes us appreciate the simple things.

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