Getting lost in Queenstown

Not in the town itself, that would be hard, even for me, but in the woods behind Fernhill attempting and failing to complete, or possibly even start, the Fernhill Loop Track. Had a bit of an adventure in the process though, with a near repeat later the same afternoon.

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Having done the Queenstown Hill walk before thought I’d try another walk close to town, catching a ten minute bus along by Lake Wakatipu out to the suburb of Fernhill. The directions said start half way up Crescent Road, following the steep logging road up to the track gate (30 mins). Was treated to some rather nice if perhaps overly familiar by now (hazard of living in New Zealand) views back over Fernhill and the lake, and found what appeared to be a logging road.


Which turned into a dead end of broken trees and branches…


Retraced my steps to back to a reservoir which had what looked very much like a track heading off behind it, which matched with my admittedly sketchy maps (despite being the best available).


Quite soon there appeared to be multiple tracks, which weren’t actually tracks at all, just looked like them between the trees. Came across a couple coming back down who couldn’t find an obvious track and were returning back. I pressed on, heading further up the hillside in dense and dark forest (despite it being 2pm and clear skies).

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Came across a barbed wire fence and checking Google Maps (had full mobile coverage for the whole walk, plus a personal locator beacon, so wasn’t too seriously lost) I appeared to be too far west.

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Headed due east, down a rather steep valley to a pleasant if trackless stream.

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To find myself somewhat stuck, so headed south easterly back toward the start of the track, requiring some rather epic steep hillside climbing, very glad I brought hiking poles with me.

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After an hour and a half of mostly lost wandering through forest, and scrambling up and down steep hillsides, I finally got back onto the possible track and returned to where I started from. The map did say that the track is not well marked, an understatement! Never has a concrete reservoir looked so inviting…


Headed back toward Queenstown but was keen to stay away from the roads. Found the Town Link Trail, starting from a pretty scenic playground.


Turned off onto One Mile Creek Trail to head past a small waterfall, up steep hillside, to find myself in a very similar situation again! Lost the track but thankfully saw a sign even further up the hillside. Put my by then well practiced sketchy hill ascent skills to use and rejoined the track, like many in the area, shared with mountain bikers.

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Had some pretty spooky looking forest to head through and yet more uphill before reaching Mid Way Clearing.


Straightforward return to Queenstown from here, down the access road which offered the best sights of the day, as the sun set over the Remarkables, and along the Tiki Trail to the Gondola base station. Well sign posted streets beckoned…

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Author: jontycrane

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