“It had been my goal for some time to do the Hollyford Walk with my 3 children. We have strong family connection to the area as my grandfather Davey Gunn was part of the history of the Hollyford Valley and Martins Bay. With my daughters due to come home from London for a visit after three years overseas, it was the perfect opportunity. I wanted them to experience this beautiful and rugged part of New Zealand that their great grandfather loved so much. I knew the landscape would be stunning, having spent many holidays staying at Gunn’s Camp, but what I hadn't known in advance was all the other parts that made this trip truly memorable - friendly and knowledgeable guides Mush and Mandy and the other staff at the lodges, really comfortable accommodation, amazing food, the time to relax with a wine or beer at the end of the day, hearing stories of past failed settlements, and the fantastic people who made up the group of 16. We were certainly with a great group – nine from the USA and six Kiwis.
The first night around the dinner table each person had a chance to speak a bit about themselves and on the second night there was just so much laugher and banter going on, it was like we had known each other for ages and not just the two days. The first day’s walk was a little challenging with sore feet and a few inclines so arriving at the Pyke Lodge to be greeted with a drink and a biscuit was very welcome. I was soon revitalized by a hot shower and a glass of wine before dinner. On day two a highlight was being jet-boated down beautiful Lake McKerrow – to realize my grandfather rowed the 15km length of the lake using miss-matching oars and with cracked ribs as part of his famous journey to save plane crash victims made it even more special. On Lake McKerrow a pod of dolphins had entered the Hollyford River from the spit and were on their way up to the lake. It was really special to watch the dolphins swimming so close to the jet boat. We were told they swim up to the head of the lake once every few weeks to feed on salmon and trout and to de-lice and get some respite for young dolphins from predators in the open sea. How lucky for us to be there in the boat alongside them and something I'll never forget.
We had the most glorious weather while at Martins Bay on the final day, walking along the sand dunes I felt privileged to be there, realizing that so few people actually get to see this special part of New Zealand. Before we knew it we were seated around the large table at the lodge for our last delicious lunch together before the helicopters came to transport us to Milford Sound. It was all coming to an end far too quickly. The helicopter flight was amazing, following the coast line then flying up the length of Milford Sound.
It was the perfect trip, exceeding all expectations, and I know for my daughters and son it has created a lifetime memory and an appreciation of how special this part of New Zealand is.”