19 December 2020
It started raining overnight and is still raining when we get up in the morning. I thought it was raining much harder than it actually was because I was confused by the sound of running water – a branch of the falls that ran underneath my room! After breakfast we put on all our wet weather gear and head out for the final leg of our hike. Although we pull up the hoods of our rain jackets, it is not raining particularly heavily and as we are heading down through the beech forest we are protected from the worst of it. However, I had borrowed a PVC raincoat that was good at stopping the rain getting in but as it wasn’t breathable I ended up being completely drenched inside anyway.
We got some misty views of the Routeburn Flats as we headed down the forest track. It was steep and rocky to start with but quickly opened out into a wide track that was fairly easy walking. We were walking alongside the river that in places was in deep gorges. With the rain we could almost see the waterfalls growing before our eyes and we were very grateful that there were bridges so that we didn’t have to cross in the river.
It is a much shorter day today and we arrive at the Routeburn Road End Shelter in time for lunch and to meet up with Pete and the bus. We find dry clothes and, as we need to return any borrowed packs and raingear at this point, we end up with pack liners and bags of wet clothes to put into the bus. On the way home we stop in the township of Glenorchy for celebratory drinks (and fries) at the pub before heading back to Queenstown.
Rachel and Frannie have booked to go to Rata (an upmarket sister restaurant to Madame Woo that I visited on my first day) that night and managed to change their booking so that I could join them. While we were having drinks beforehand outside in the Queenstown Mall, Jackie passed by as well and we were able to change the booking a second time to accommodate all 4 of us. On the far wall in Rata there is a huge photo of the forest that made us feel very at home. When we told the maitre-de that we had just walked the Routeburn Track, he said ‘oh you must be looking forward to having some good food’ – to which we replied that the bar had been set pretty high for our expectations. We were not disappointed!