So I’ve been in New Zealand for 4 weeks now, and through absolutely no fault of my own, just got this blog set up. Now it’s time to get everyone reading caught up to speed on what’s going on over here in the Land of the Long White Cloud. However, due to the number of amazingly fun adventures, of which you are sure to be jealous, along with the strange yet titillating mini-adventures on which I have embarked, I have decided to make a 2-part recap of the last 4 weeks. This is PB&J’s for Second Breakfast, Part 2. (Click here for Part 1).
After spending the first two weeks of school in Dunedin, 4 other males and I decided to make a last second travel plan to Milford Sound for the weekend. We rented a cheap car and stuffed in there, ready for a weekend of glorious views and mighty peaks. I was the first to drive, in the dark, no less (we left at 6 am), so I had to get used to the left side of the road in a hurry. All was well for most of the drive, as I became accustomed to having the wheel on the right side of the car, when out of nowhere there was a car heading straight at me in my lane trying to pass a truck. I quickly hit the brakes and made a slight swerve going into the shoulder. The other driver did the same, pulling back behind the truck. Disaster was avoided, but the collective heart of our vehicle may have skipped a few beats in that fleeting moment.
The highways here in New Zealand are not the four-lane luxury interstates we are used to in America. Here, they are 1 lane, weaving and winding through the hills and mountains of the beautiful landscape, making for a rather enjoyable yet slightly more dangerous driving experience. As we moved closer to the Fiordland National Park, the scenery became even more delightful, as we were greeted by mountains with snowy peaks before our very eyes. We stopped at several locations along the way to take in the scenery, and I could barely contain myself. I was in absolute awe at the majesty of the famous fjords. After a brief dip in the shimmering, yet freezing, waters of Lake Te Anau, We were almost to our final destination: Milford Sound.
To access the sound, we needed to go through Homer Tunnel, which cuts a half mile through the heart of the mountains. After another long, winding road through the valley between the peaks, we were at the sound. It was a breathtaking view, as the mountains seemed to jut out the water until they reached the stratosphere.
Since the only way to really see the sound is to take the somewhat pricey cruise along the lake, and since we were trying not to spend too much this weekend, we decided to make camp outside of the Sound. After exiting Homer Tunnel, we made our way to the picturesque Lake Gunn, where we made camp for the night. After a night of charades, which would soon become commonplace amongst the group, we were ready for a nice hike up Key Summit the next morning.
We proceeded up along the trail through the rainforest-type flora and fauna, basking in the glow of Mr. Golden Sun peering through the treetops. There were several views of a small yet gorgeous waterfall, as well as a certain point that looked like there was a way to climb down to get a better look (we’ll get to this later). We reached the top of Key Summit, but were greeted by views that we did not expect nor welcome.
It was fog. Nothing but endless fog.
What was supposed to be a lovely view of the surrounding mountains was nothing but a collection of liquid water droplets suspended in the air near the Earth’s surface. We continued to walk around at the top, before admitting defeat to Mother Nature and headed back down. On the way down, I spotted a way to climb down to a waterfall, and could not pass up the opportunity. I used roots to slowly ascend down the muddy hill, before sliding down the last 15 feet. The view was incredible, and I was glad I climbed down, but I soon realized getting back up would not be an easy task. It was all muddy with no firm roots for me to grab hold. There was a creek that looked as if it would take me in the direction of where the path had started, so I yelled up to my friends to meet me down a ways. After walking along the creek, I found myself at the edge of a previously unseen large waterfall, with no way down. I started to worry how I would escape, before finding another way up through the jungle. I climbed up for a few minutes before finding the path, and proceeded to catch up to the others, who were less than jubilated that I had attempted such a foolish feat.
The next day, we made a long hike up to Lake Marion, which turned out to be a stunning sight. I climbed out to a rock peninsula, briefly removing my socks and shoes so I could wade out a bit further. There was a waterfall to the side, and the combination of the clear lake and large mountains made for a rather peaceful feeling. Our time in the Fiorlands was over, and I am filled with serenity any time I picture the amazing scenery that was upon me that weekend. We returned home, and caught up on our rest before class began again on Monday morning.
The very next weekend, we were back to the trails. This time, it was to the Catlins, south of Dunedin. Our plan was a simple two-day hike while camping out overnight. The hike was lovely, as we cut through the amazing jungle, whilst waking across several catwalks that seemed about as sturdy as a Kardashian marriage.
Just before dusk, we arrived in an open field where we would set up our tents. As the moon and stars became apparent, we built a nice little fire and gazed at the heavenly cosmos above. The beauty in the skies that night was almost enough to make me want to switch my major to astronomy. For the first time in my life, I was able to see the Milky Way peer through our Solar System the same way an Osprey peers through the water to spot it’s next meal. It was simply a breathtaking experience.
The next morning, we made the tramp back to our cars and headed to a town nearby, where the sweet old lady running the local museum gave us directions to a waterfall in the area, as well as a lighthouse lookout called Nugget Point. After briefly viewing the cascading falls, we made the short trip to Nugget Point. Here, we feasted our eyes on the vast waters of the Pacific. We walked out to the lighthouse, where we were able to see some sea lions on the rocks down below. After this, we returned back to Dunedin for yet another week of classes.
Keep in mind, that during all of these stories, I am averaging about 2.5 PB&J’s per day. During the weekend trips, it’s literally all I eat. I’ve found that the best way to pack food for these journeys is to pre-make PB&J’s, so that you don’t have to carry the ingredients with you on your excursion. Because of this, I have decided to keep track of the number of PB&J’s I ingest this semester. I will also update the count at the end of each blog.
Thank you for taking the time to read my 2-part recap of my first 4 weeks in New Zealand. There are plenty more adventures to be had, so I’m sure I’ll have no problem keeping this blog as updated as humanly possible.
Current PB&J count: 47.