Spring Break in New Zealand!

"Life is either a daring adventure
or nothing at all"

Boy it was an adventure just writing this post. I think it was over 3,000 words. Took up like seven pages on Microsoft word. Regardless I broke it down into multiple posts based on our cities we went to so keep going down to see the whole trip! You guys are going to love it! 

DAY 1 - Sunday

Last week was our “spring” break week, despite it now being fall in Australia. A group of 6 guys and I had purchased plane tickets to go to New Zealand. We were going to go to Christchurch, Queenstown, and Auckland for a few days each. However, a week before we were to depart there was an earthquake in Christchurch and it destroyed their city. This was a reason for concern and caused us to change our plans. If it weren’t for the earthquake our trip would have been completely different and quite frankly nowhere near as good.

We still flew in to Christchurch and decided instead of flying to Queenstown we would drive and make a few stops along the way. Once we arrived in Christchurch, we all realized we did not pack enough warm clothes. We picked up our rental car, also known as “the man-van.” The airport is only 10km away from the city and it wasn’t even affected by the earthquake. It’s hard to imagine that a city can be destroyed but just down the road there was no damage. We tried going to see the city but they said all the roads were closed.

We started the drive toward our first destination, Mt. Cook. This was about a four-hour drive and is home to the tallest peak in New Zealand. The drive was the most beautiful drive I have been on. Everywhere we drove we were surrounded by sheep and mountains. After being in the city for so long it actually felt good to be in the country. Many places along our drive were places they filmed The Lord of The Rings trilogy. We stopped a couple times along the way, as we had to grab food because there were not any grocery stores near by. We also stopped and put that self-timer function on my camera to good use. This lake we stopped at felt like we were living in a postcard since it was dusk out.

As we continued on the road we saw a sign for cow crossing. Even though I go to school in West Virginia I have never in my life seen a sign for crossing cows. What makes it even funnier was that it was really dark out right before we reached our hostel and sure enough we almost ran into a herd of 6 cows just hanging out in the middle of the road. Luckily I was sitting in the front seat as co-pilot because if it weren’t for me Spenser would have run right into the cows.

We checked in to our hostel at about 9 in the evening. This hostel was way different then the ones we have stayed at as it was built in the early 50’s and had a great country feel to it. There were deer and moose heads on the walls. We explored around a little bit and then headed to bed as we were waking up for an early morning hike.

Day 2 - Monday

The alarm rang at 730 and we grabbed some brekky real fast and put our bags in the van and headed out for a hike. No need to shower since we were all country folk for the week. This hike was mostly steps and lead to the tallest peak you can hike to, despite taking us only an hour to reach the top. Upon reaching the top, all of our legs were “dead” tired, so we took about a half hour rest and took in the beautiful views of tallest peak in New Zealand: Mt. Cook.

We headed down and got back into the man-van and headed for our second hike of the day. This hike was to see the largest glacier in New Zealand. We had about a twenty-minute drive that consisted mostly of gravel roads. This hike was only twenty minutes but was more about the views than the hike. I have never seen glaciers like this just sitting in water. We were told that the earthquake in Christchurch had broken off lots of these glaciers, which made it really cool for us to see.

We stayed here for about an hour because the views were that stunning. Just as we were about to leave we heard a big rumble and we looked toward the water and sure enough a big piece of one of the glaciers had broken off and fallen into the water. We were amazed and this was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. After staying for a few more minutes we departed Mt. Cook and headed for Milford Sound.

We left Mt. Cook at noon, as Milford Sound was a seven-hour drive and we knew we needed to make good time. Driving at night on the wrong side of the road in the country is not a good combination. Along the way we passed Queenstown, which we headed, to just a couple days later.

We had to stop about two hours from Milford Sound in a town called Te Anu to eat dinner and get more groceries, as this was the last town until Milford Sound. A couple the guys ate Chinese and the rest of the guys and I ate at this place called The Ranch. As we sat down I heard a familiar noise coming from the speakers. It was John Denver’s Country Roads playing. I never in a million years would have thought I would hear a West Virginia song playing 10,000 miles away in New Zealand. It blew my mind.

We arrived a Milford Sound at dark and checked in to our hostel. We explored the hostel further and discovered there was a ten-minute glowworm hike. At ten in the evening we headed outside and hiked in the dark. The only thing lighting up the walk was in fact the glow worms. It was a neat hike but we were eager to head to bed, as we had to be up early yet again.
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