Alright so I decided I’d finish off where I left off and finish the story of New Zealand before blogging about the past few days.
DAY4: The Glacier. Just looking at the Franz Josef glacier from the distance was remarkable enough, to the point where you’re inside a valley in which the glacier looks like it’s 500 meters away and you find out it’s closer to 2.5 km, your perspective of everything in sight changes. The hike up the glacier was relatively easy, but definitely physically demanding, especially after having hike the Abel Tasman the day before, that and having driven close to 7 hours at night only to find out that every hostel was closed by the time we arrived. The hike up to the base of the glacier took long, but the excitement of knowing that soon we were going to be wearing Crampons and walking on kilometers of thick glacier ice was definitely worth the effort. The glacier changes on a day-to-day basis, making more and more caves, closing some paths and opening others, but no words can describe the feeling you get walking through a glacier. The ice was blue unlike any blue I’ve ever seen before. Luckily, in the rainiest area of New Zealand, we managed to get a day filled with sunlight and not a cloud in sight, the sky seemed to reflect the color of the ice caves Sunny and I were walking through. After our lunch break we were at a spot in the glacier where there were pools of glacier water everywhere in sight. We filled our water bottles with this remarkably cold, fresh and nothing less than perfectly clear water to hydrate us for the rest of the day. At some point I even managed to let our tour guide hold my legs as I shoved my head in one of the pools just out of curiosity. I’ll stop with the glacier for now, I’m sure you all get the point, it was nothing less than awesome.
DAY5: Recooperation. We really needed a day to relax, Sunny and I had hiked two huge treks in two really long days; this made any spectator laugh while watching us “walk”. We bought a couple of souvenirs that day after a good night’s rest in the first beds we got in the south island. After that we proceeded to walk to the Wildlife Sanctuary in which they had two Kiwi’s (the bird not the fruit for those who may be confused). The breed they had were 2 of only 300 left in the world. They were really cool birds, I mean, the island is so predator-free that birds adapted out of wings? Pretty crazy. Much bigger than I expected, interesting fact is that they’re nocturnal, so the circadian clock that they’re brought up with is opposite to ours so that we can see them when it’s daytime for us, where as it is dark and cold in the silent room they were in to roam free around. After the kiwi sightings we hit the road for Queenstown, another five or so hour drive. I would arguably say this day was done but not even close, while driving we experienced the environment of every continent or country I could imagine, within about two to three hours of road. We started at the glacier, driving to what ended up being my first mirror lake, Lake Matheson, reflecting the Southern Alps to near perfection as there was the slightest breeze to destroy the tranquility of the lake. After our little detour to see our first mirror lake we hit the road to see the rainforest turn into valleys, passing through towns that looked like the Wild West. We saw landscape that made us think we were in Africa, we saw the dynamic of the mountains change, twenty minutes later we were driving past a sandy beach with perfect rocks. This is New Zealand, we thought, every continent’s environment condensed into two mountainous islands in the pacific. We eventually got to the hostel, made our plans for the following days, relaxed in the hot tub and chilled out. Luckily we ran into an awesome guy from France that worked as a cook for several years, one restaurant being the french equivalent of Hells Kitchen. He cooked us one of the best Carbonara sauces I’ve ever had in my life, and coming from a purely Italian family, that is saying a LOT. We didn’t know how to repay him so we took him out for a beer after the feast.
DAY6: The Rise. As Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother said in the new years episode, he likes his cd’s to be all rise, unlike others who like it to rise and drop. This was the start of the big rise. What we had seen so far was remarkable, and we noted that our trip had been all rise and we planned to keep it that way. We woke up at a reasonable time to head out to the hot tub before the day began. After we were all relaxed we got some meat pies as usual and took the gondola up to our first of two excursions for the day. Essentially we really wanted to zipline in NZ, so we did. We had the opportunity to meet some pretty cool guides and they showed us how to go upside down and do some neat tricks on the zip line, which will be useful the next time we go. It was awesome talking to them and learning about the history of Queenstown and why it looked so North American rather than South Pacific. After the zipping we ate and went back up the gondola to our second trip of the day, luge. We had a blast, we bought 5 runs and got a bonus one for booking with our hostel. With the speeds that we were going down that track, strangers were seriously taking pictures of us, I felt like they needed to ticket us for not slowing down on the turns they told us to. Luckily we never fell off the luges, even going downhill on wet U-turns at crazy speeds. We had so much fun that we ended up buying 5 more rides once we were done, just to perfect the track, get a little rough, and have some nice footage on the GoPro.
Enough about New Zealand, I’ll let the rest of the ALL RISE Vacation be told in my next blog. Sorry about all the rambling, I just want to make sure you all know what’s going on!
Today we had a little field trip with some class mates and our awesome lecturer. We went tot he Botanical Gardens, where we received a quick tour of the area and a lot of background of the aboriginals and their use of the plants. The aboriginal guide we had was not only humorous and entertaining, but he had a lot of background and experience with the mistreatment of the aboriginals and their land, making the day an eye-opening experience. We were exposed to so many different plants and uses for the plants, we had home made tea with leaves that we saw and smelt in the gardens. The whole afternoon was blissful as it was beautiful outside and we ended up going out for a meal after it was done. Our lecturer was ready to take us wherever we wanted, only problem is we didn’t know what we wanted; we were all starving and dying to get a massive meal in our bellies. He said he knew just the place, and he did. We went to this spot and the three guys ordered the same burger, the Bogan Burger. Now none of us are Bogans (the Australian equivalent of Redneck) but that burger had just about every meat in the book and more. After eating that, even being the eating machine that was put on display by Why? Simply Because just a few months earlier; that burger had me nothing less than stuffed.
Tonight I’ll be heading out to a Monash Exchange event that I’m running late for due to my inability to keep blogs short and sweet, so I’ll tell you all about it on Monday, and I’ll finish the story of New Zealand which was nothing less than LEGEN..
Wait For It..
Bottom – Lake Matheson
Top – One of thousands of ice crevices that we saw and walked through at Franz Josef.