Seeing as I live in New Zealand and I like going to places in New Zealand and I adore writing travel posts and everybody should appreciate New Zealand’s beauty, I want to start a sporadic series about place I go in New Zealand. This is the first in this hypothetical series. Enough babbling: if you don’t want to read the post, just look at the photos! Also, I don’t have a camera so I didn’t take any of these, however I don’t want to tell you the photographer’s names because duh but know I’m sharing with permission)
One thing I’ve been trying to do more in university is to say yes to things. I want to be more spontaneous, to seize the opportunities I’m offered, to not search for excuses. I don’t want to not do something because I have homework (it can often be done later; who needs sleep, am I right?<– I do, actually) or because I need to study. Saying yes, which I so often didn’t do in high school, is something I want to keep working on. And although I could think of plenty of excuses (I’d spent every weekend of uni so far doing stuff and I needed to chill! I had an injured ankle! I didn’t have time to pack!), when I was offered the chance to go to Fiordland I said yes as fast as possible.
I’ve never been south of Dunedin before (side note: this trip means that in the last year I’ve mad new personal records when it come to latitudes; here, furthest south and in Stockholm, furthest north.) Fiordland is supposed to be the epitome of New Zealand’s wild beauty, a place that all tourists go yet I hadn’t. It’s a huge national park in the south-west corner of the South Island, and every year, t he university tramping club goes there for a weekend trip. However, but demand was so high that for each group (about 100 people went, but in smaller groups depending on experience level, etc.) they pulled names out of a hat because not everyone could come. I didn’t make it, but somebody pulled out at the last minute and I got an email asking me if I wanted to come two hours before the trip left. I decided to say yes and packed hurriedly.
We left in a huge bus, playing party music. At about midnight, close to our campsite, we stopped to have a look at Mirror Lakes. They were incredibly still and because it was dark, looking down at them was like looking at a bottomless bowl filled with stars. It was about 3 degrees Celsius and I’d just woken. The experience was incredibly surreal. We reached the campsite half an hour later, managed to get under tent flies and into our sleeping bags as fast as possible. That night it froze, and even with my lovely fluffy sleeping bag I was almost cold.
The next morning (or rather, the same morning), we set off after a slow start, up one of the Great Walks tracks. It was steep until we got past the treeline to a summit, then turned off the track and started to walk along the ridge. Because there weren’t trees, it was generally pretty easy going, even without a track. There were gorgeous views down to deep emerald blue lakes below and ranges of steep mountains across. We lucked out with weather; although Fiordland is renowned for rain, we didn’t get any the entire weekend. On Satuday as we walked across the ridge it was almost hot in the sun.
We walked along the ridge most of the day, stopping for lunch and to recover from big hills, enjoying the sun and the views. We saw some chamois (pronounced ‘shammy btw; this is how I thought it was spelled until quite recently) or tahr, and alpine plants and many, many tarns of varying sizes. Another person there was in my geology paper, so we occasionally tried to ‘study’ by discussing the metamorphic foliation of the surrounding peaks, the minerals they might be made up of, the uplift we could see had occurred. Finally we spotted the hut down below and had to overshoot it before wending our way down the hills, through the beech forest, next to a cold, clear brook, and to the hut, which was by a river near one of the huge lakes we’d spotted earlier. It was getting late, so we ate dinner and dessert and got to bed at about 9:30.
The next morning was more relaxed, because the walk out was far shorter, so we had the time to go up a saddle for a side trip while leaving our packs at the bottom. The weather was cloudier, but it wasn’t raining and perfect temperature for walking. We stopped at a hut for lunch, and jumped in the lake that it was next to, which was refreshing to say the least. Then we walked the final hour out and began the long drive home, getting back at about 10.
This trip was only about 48 hours and somewhat exhausting, packing was stressful and I didn’t get any studying done, but I’m so glad I said yes. It was lovely to be out of the city and the rhythms of university life, and have the chance to meet new people and go to one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. I’m so glad I get to go to a university that does this kind of thing and I’m definitely keen to go on more tramping trips in the future.