When Linus, a Swede I met in Kaikoura had decided to come to Milford Sound for 3 days, I took it upon myself to show him around the area. The itinerary would be crossing the Cleddau River, tramping the Tutoko Valley, and playing Jenga.
Five of us set out to cross the Cleddau River at it’s shallowest area and even so, the current was strong. We were advised to find a long branch to steady ourselves. From a stranger’s view, I bet we looked like hobbits following Grandalf.
The water was icy, the rocks slippery with moss, I focused on the grip of my feet on the ground underneath 2 feet deep water.
“Ahh!” Linus yelped. “Help!”
Alerted, I looked over to find him slowly floating with the current.
“Linus, stand up!” advised one member of the group, who had grabbed on to his shirt.
Linus scrambled to stand, supported by the branch. Panicked in the moment, he had forgotten he was 6 feet, 3 inches.
After some exploring, we made our way back across the river again.
When I suggest we tramp the Tutoko Valley the next day, Linus looked skeptical. But being a good sport he agreed. Again we set off, walking 40 minutes along Milford Road until we arrived to the starting point of the track, which was a 4 km route with a 5 hour return.
The route was horizontal with no noticeable inclines. Though it remains one of the most grueling routes I ever encountered. Due to an earlier rainfall, the mud was deep and soft. In some areas, with every step, the mud would be 1 feet deep. The route felt like an obstacle course with twists and turns, natural footholds, Beech tree roots, large rocks, large logs, and blind spots. At one point we had to hop from large root to a log to avoid going into a large puddle – more like a pond at that point.
Most of the time we were quiet, each navigating the path with intense focus and varying speeds. By the time we reached a creek, Linus’ pants were ripped at the crotch by a sharp branch. It wasn’t before long after we started off again, did the sound of a ripping fabric and “Shit!” echoed in our eardrums.
Exhausted after 6 hours of tramping and walking, we had another 40 minutes to go before returning back to our accommodation. Shoes soggy with mud, pants wet with puddle water, and shirts drenched with sweat, we trudge slowly along the road.
The next day, we had a leisurely breakfast together and I sent him off to the bus station. No mentions were made about the battered pants.