We did the Hump Ridge as a guided walk, this means that you still have to carry a pack but don't have to carry food (other than the provided lunch and snacks) or a sleeping bag. You can also have the clothes and toiletries you don't need while walking helicoptered to the lodges.
We stayed the night prior at the Waiau Hotel which is included in the cost. Hotel whilst basic, and somewhat dated, is clean and the included breakfast is a good start to the day.
Day 1. We drove to the Hump Ridge Track office and stored our car there. We were driven to the start of the track by Ali, the group is a maximum of 10 but there was only the 2 of us and one other couple. Our guide Ray was a legend (76 years young !!) and we felt privileged to have him as our guide, he is a very experienced tramper and knows all the Fiordland tracks as well. A short helicopter ride takes you across the bay and shortens the walk by 8 km (which you walk Day 3 anyway). The walk up to Okaka Lodge starts out easy but the section up to Stag Point is steep and hard going. Once you reach Stag Point the track is not as steep and, in contrast, is easy with a lot of it being boardwalk. The views from the lookout above Okaka Lodge are amazing. The Lodge itself is great and the guided rooms have king beds. The night stars were breathtaking, it was clear (with no other lights), and you felt as though you were surrounded by stars.
Day 2. An easier walk than Day 1 but still some 'up' sections. Views from Luncheon Rock were great and as it was a clear day you could see the viaducts in the distance. Walking across the viaducts was great but the railway sleepers section seemed to go forever! Port Craig Lodge had a nice lounge/dining area but without the views of Okaka. It also was strange to see other people walking as the DOC hut is nearby and the path to the beach goes past the Lodge. Be warned sandflies at Port Craig are everywhere and you can not escape them!!
Day 3. The track heads down to the coast and the walk for that day alternates between bush and coastline. The driftwood on the beaches is huge. The track finishes with you walking the 8 km you flew over on Day 1.
Overall we were very impressed with the guided walk, food was great (especially the baking provided by Trish!) as were the lodges. The staff (lodge managers Joyce & Liz, Ray, and Trish and Ali) were friendly and knowledgeable. There was no pressure to walk the track at anything other than your own pace, and Ray frequently dropped back to let you enjoy it on your own.As for the track itself, although it was hard on Day 1 we loved every minute of it, each day was different to the previous in terms of scenery and track formation. We would not hesitate to recommend doing the walk and if you can afford it do the guided option as we felt it was worth paying for.
We have now walked the Milford Track, Grand Traverse (Greenstone Valley & Routeburn tracks combined), Able Tasman & Hollyford tracks and would rate this in the top 2 easily. Although there are other tracks we still want to walk we would love to come back and walk the Hump Ridge again one day.
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