Key Summit and Earland Falls

Key Summit and Earland Falls

Day 25.

I drive a bit north to The Divide, from where the Great Walk, Routeburn, starts, but also several shorter day hikes. Based on travel blogs and reviews, I have planned to combine a trek to Earland Falls with the more famous Key Summit. After 45min of ascending the trek splits in two and I go left towards the Lake Howden Hut, and from there continue towards Earland Falls. The trek is generally with a lot of vegetation close to the mountain edge, so there are several small streams which need to be passed. One can most places look through the tree branches to see mountains and peaks. I reach the sign of Earland Falls, showing an impressive height of 176m. There are a lot of raindrops in the air and a high noise from the waterfall. I equip my wind breaker and else leave the backpack behind. Just around the corner and the raindrops intensify and you are almost standing under this huge waterfall – wow! I get rather wet but it’s fantastic to be this close and look up the high waterfall. It’s now second day in a row with shower and taste of waterfall! The 2½ hours (incl. return) detour to Earland falls is for sure worth it.

The hike to Key Summit is in open terrain where one can see mountains and the green wooded valley with a river through. There are also many smaller waterfalls running down the mountain sides. At the summit there is view to the Cristina mountain, which has a perfect pyramid shaped peak. The walk down to the car park is considerably quicker – in total the two combined treks and a lunch break have taken 5 hours.

I drive towards Te Anau and make a stop at the Mirror Lakes. Again, not much reflection or mirror to see even though the water looks perfectly still. In Te Anau I get my check-in ticket for the Kepler track huts for the following days. The DOC weather forecast is decent with 15mm of rain each day. I go by the Outdoor show to rent the sleeping bag and a pot, so I can prepare coffee and hot meals at the hots – cookers and gas are installed. I stay at the same camping site as the other day, it was quite nice and reasonable priced (26 dollars for one person with power).

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