Brewster and Copland track

Amazing views, hot pools and blue mushrooms!



5/15/20236 min read

Honza was also more than satisfied at the glacier. You could climb through several ice caves there. It is similar to the underground where he likes to climb, so he came with a smile and brought some photos.

When Honza arrived back, the sun was already setting down behind the hills. We enjoyed the sunset for a while, watching the Keas play and then headed down. Darkness caught us already at the beginning of the forest. While taking out the headlamps, a Morpork owl was looking at us from the tree, and then it was pitch black.

We slid through the forest down to the icy river, which we had to ford back to the parking lot and set off to the campsite.

The next day we just moved along the coast towards the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. It was raining as usual, so we just drove to Haast, where we spent the day at the info center on Wi-Fi and charged all the devices overnight at the campsite. It didn't stop raining even in the morning. What a surprise. So we visited a couple of beaches and climbed up to the Fox Glacier lookout before moving on to the campsite at Gillespie Beach.

The weather seemed to finally let us go into the proper mountains again. The track through the Copland valley is very popular. The main goal is a hot natural pool near which they built a cottage so that people can come here to relax. And that after the whole route, the rest is well-deserved. The path is not very difficult, it rises gradually and is maintained, but it is 16 kilometers long and jumping over stones all the way is tiring. We set off relatively late and had to walk fast to reach the lights and not get wet. We managed to get into the hot pool as we had hoped in and then we didn't really care that it was raining on our heads.

Even here, the glaciers are disappearing very quickly, but we still wanted to see at least what was still left. And that it's really just a sad torso of a once beautiful giant. Due to erosion and the massive retreat of the ice, you can't get very close, and you can only see a tiny bit of the end somewhere in the distance. It's impressive and sad at the same time. But then again, it's one of the few places where you'll see a glacier framed by ferns and palm trees.

Gillespie is a gold mining beach, where before sunset we took a short walk through the old territory of the gold miners who never mined anything here. In twenty years, over 200 people mined here and together they found about 1.5 kilos of gold.

The way back to the car was marked by quality, with a quick stop in a hot pool, of course, because Ivet and Ondra had already arrived in the town of Fox and we wanted to have a evening together on the beach with roasting sausages. But the two of us came down so hungry that sausages had to wait until later and we went to a restaurant together for a proper hamburger.

We stuffed our stomachs with delicious food and, as a bonus, took a walk around Lake Mathesson, where the mountains were beautifully reflected. All were dominated by the snow-capped peaks of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.

Ondra and Ivet drove first because they were already at Mathesson's and they made a small fire on Gillespies beach, where we sat and talked for a good while after dark. Then we fell like like dead in the beds.

After saying goodbye to Ivet and Ondra, we finally set off for the West coast. It's like you've stepped into a completely different world. Steep mountains and yellow grass turn here into deep green valleys, rainforests with waterfalls at every step. And yet it is only the other side of the same mountains that can be seen from Wanaka. This is because there is much more precipitation here and it is the rainiest place on the planet. Over 7 meters of water can rain here annually.

From Wanaka we set off along Lake Hawea to the western tip of Aspiring National Park with a plan to climb Brewster hut. It was raining as usual. So we stayed down in the parking lot and waited to see if the weather would clear up. This time it didn't take him as long and we could already go for a walk to the river with Blue Pools in the morning. Beautiful blue lagoons into which you can jump from the bridge. But we didn't quite get it. Firstly, there were too many people there and secondly, the sun was not shining on the water, so the supposedly blue water was more like grey. Next time we want to go here in the afternoon.

The rest of the cloud was still sitting on the tops, so we waited until the afternoon before it disappeard. We set off up the hill with the idea that we would at least catch the sunset there and then simply climb down with our headlamps. The route did not disappoint and, as always, was led straight up like a ruler. I really don't know if they don't know the concept of serpentines here or if they are just too lazy to build them.

There was also the traditional scrambling up the roots and stones and then sliding down on your ass. My hip is still complaining and it doesn't want to go up or down hills, so I sat a few dozen meters above the Brewster hut on a patch of grass with a stone chair and enjoyed the evening. Meanwhile, Honza ran up to the glacier. Gradually, as the sun went down, everything turned into crazy orange shades. There were also curious Kea parrots. The coulours were crazy, but actually beautiful. Well, judge for yourself.

But it wouldn't be a proper trip if some craziness wasn't added to the relaxation. In this case, it was the ascent to the Douglas Rock hut and then to the Copland saddle. Despite the fact that ropes of rain were still falling from the sky and you could see no higher through the clouds. But during lunch the clouds started to lift and eventually it stopped raining completely. It meant we were off.

Through moraines, fording rivers, landslides and finally through a nice forest to a cottage above a waterfall. The chimney was already smoking and we became another random addition to the group huddled by the stove. Two Germans and one Italian had the same plan.

Towards evening the wind began to rise and blow through the leaky roof of the cottage. Then, just before snuggling up, we were surprised by the snow, which blew in with the wind and fell on us. That's how warm it was in the cottage. Even so, we played a few rounds of codenames before bed and went to sleep.

The morning was exactly the same as the evening. The hills were covered with clouds, it was snowing and an icy gale was blowing. It was clear that the way up to the saddle would be under snow. In addition, my hip started to hurt overnight because I'm still trying to avoid my sore ankle, so I decided to stay at the cottage while the group went up. Unlike them, I quite enjoyed my stay in the mountains. All morning I tried to warm up the stove with wet wood at least enough to boil water for tea. It proved to be an almost superhuman task and ended up only raising the temperature in the cabin by a few degrees compared to outside. When I managed to boil the first two liters of water at three in the afternoon, I could finally make something for lunch. In addition, we were quite on edge with the food we took with us. Food for three days had to become food for four days and the rations were significantly reduced.

Keeping up and not eating everything at once was also a difficult task. While I spent the day in the cottage knitting and wrapped in a sleeping bag, the rest of us were up there fighting the wind and snow. Apart from me and Honza, no one had gloves, so I lent mine to a girl from Germany, Heidi, and the boys went without them. They probably regretted it a lot, because then I heard that one of them put socks on his hands instead of them and the other walked through the terrible terrain with his hands in his pockets. But my thin ones weren't enough either, and even Heidi went with her hands in her armpits.

The original plan to get to the shelter for the night on the other side of the ridge had failed, and just before dark they returned frozen as icicles. It was said to be an ice slide at the top and without the cats they had no chance of getting over the rest of the glacier.