The little town of Te Anau is home to DOC's headquarters for Fiordland National Park, and it's also the start and end point of the circular Kepler Track, which I thought would be a good introduction to New Zealand's longer treks. Stocking up for the Kepler was pretty easy, as it's one of the more mollycoddled walks in the country, with relatively luxurious huts, gas cookers, plenty of beds and a very high standard of track. I decided to take a leisurely four days over the walk, which is about as long as you can take, so I bought all the provisions I needed, and after exploring Te Anau and its various points of interest, I headed north to Ten Mile Bush, the nearest DOC campsite to town, and settled in for the night. I never really got to see Ten Mile Bush because it was dark when I arrived, but when I woke up and saw that it was little more than a normal rest area, I popped up to the next one, Henry Creek, and spent Saturday unwinding and packing in preparation for the walk.
In comparison, Henry Creek was a divine stop. Te Anau town is on the southernmost tip of Lake Te Anau, and up the eastern side of the lake are quite a few DOC campsites, all primitive, but all situated in beautiful scenery. Crashing out on the lakeside, sunbathing and swimming, reading and sleeping... it was the perfect preparation for a long walk.
It helped that the weather was excellent, which was a relief as Fiordland is renowned for its serious rain; Milford Sound, for example, gets between 7m and 9m of rain per year, depending on which book you read, but whatever the figure, that's an awful lot of precipitation. By the time I set off for Te Anau early on Sunday morning, I was about as ready for the tramp as I was going to get.