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Hollyford in style

; Quelle: The Press

Tramping by day in pristine wilderness and nature's timeless cycles in Fiordland can lead to comfortable lodges and fine food at night. CATH GILMOUR goes exploring.

The vast expanse of sand really does make me want to dance. Remote, empty, and pristine, Martins Bay invites celebration of the raw power that constantly recreates its own environment.

Wind sculpts the dunes and shears stunted vegetation that grows in the wake of its salt-laden air. Storms rage inland to feed the forest and raise rivers, which then carry their cargo of uprooted trees seaward again. Nature's timeless cycles.

All this is part of the Hollyford Track guided walk. So are delicious food, comfortable lodges, hot showers, fine wine, great company, light packs, and friendly, informative guides. Nothing is too much trouble for them. The perfect holiday.

The Hollyford is Fiordland National Park's largest and northernmost river. Enveloped by the towering Darran and Humboldt ranges, it flows from rainforest and brooding mountains to wind-shorn coastal bush and sea-pummelled boulders. It speaks of millenniums of landscape creation, centuries of exploration, decades of recreation.

The track is ideal. It is not too manicured for tramping boots, but we need not watch each footfall. Each step takes us further into the Hollyford's pristine wilderness, recognised internationally by its World Heritage Area status.

Goblin's beard dangling from sun-dappled trees lends an authentic air of old age to the Jurassic forest. No wonder Fiordland will be the backdrop for much of Peter Jackson's film version of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

This mixed beech-podocarp forest is incredibly species-rich. The ever-peeling bark of the red-flowered fuchsia, light-green spread of tree ferns above ground-hugging umbrella moss, towering silver and red beech, rimu and kahikatea, and the delicate Easter and bamboo orchids perched high in their host trees.

Along with the occasional trill of tomtit and bellbird, the squawk of the kaka and parakeet, is the Hollyford's hum as it picks its rocky route to the coast.

Sun-bleached skeletons of flood-felled trees litter the beds of docile streams. Branches bow under the weight of hitchhiking epiphytes. Windfall trees reveal the thin grasp on Mother Nature they hold with their broad pancake of roots.

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