Just a disclaimer, this is going to be a long post. But on the bright side, only because I just had one of the most epic weekend of all time. Firstly, it was a great week to start. We’ve finally started cooking in my Food and Consumers class, and I just stumbled into the Food Science library which has hundreds of cookbooks and foodie magazines. It’s nerdy, but I must have spent at least two hours flipping through a bunch of them to find a broccoli recipe for next week’s practical. Who knew homework could be fun? Max, his cousin Nelson, and I took the car (officially named Peggy) out to Tunnel Beach. Our jaws literally dropped at the sight of it, and we couldn’t NOT go swimming despite the arctic temps. Unfortunately my camera was dead that day, so I’ll have to wait until Nelson uploads his pictures to have anything on here. On Thursday myself and some flatmates took the bus to St. Claire’s beach. It was a little chilly, but it was nice after a week of classes.
And then it was Friday morning, and nine of us piled into two vehicles for a four hour drive to Queenstown. Although we were generally keeping spirits up with the great music and conversation, the views alone were enough to keep anyone entertained. We stopped at a gorgeous fruit stand about an hour from our destination, and ended up crowding around the free samples table for a make-shift lunch. Don’t worry, we weren’t completely mooching…most of us bought some fruit.
We got to our destination around 2:30, and were ready to start our hike up Ben Lamond trail at 3:00. While the sign warned us that this was an eight hour hike, we figured that we could move quick enough to get back before sunset. The first hour and a half or so was through the shade, but the rest we were walking on the ridges of the mountain completely exposed. The sun felt nice, but we were all starting to get a bit salty. The hike got steeper and harder towards the top. I don’t think I’ve felt as mentally or physically challenged since the Appalachians on Bike & Build this summer. The same way I used to count pedal rotations, I was counting steps in the last hour or so. Of course, the view at the top were absolutely the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
We started the hike at around 300 meters, and ended at about 1740. That translates to upwards of 4,000 feet ascent! Pretty sweet. Obviously, the descent went a lot quicker but we were fighting off darkness. Once we entered the woods again, it was complete blackness. Luckily most of us has headlamps to guide the way. As always seems to happen towards the end of grueling physical activities, I’m not sure we talked about anything except food for the last hour. We were all planning to head to Fergburger immediately after the hike. To explain the deliciousness that is Fergburger, I can only tell you that I already had heard of the company a year and a half before coming here. It’s that good. Although we were exhausted and smelly at this point, I thought I had to capture the moment below.
After finishing our burgers it was around 10PM and we were all starting to nod off. We found our campsite and set up our tents half-hazardly and passed out. While most of us slept past the sunrise, our friend Luke was up in time to capture this picture. Have you ever seen anything that beautiful?
We all split up for the day to take on Queenstown. A couple people went mountain-biking, and couple others went luging, and myself and two others decided to go canyoning. Since canyon isn’t a real verb, I’ll explain. We did about five different zip-lines over the canyons, repelled some rocks (sort of like rock-climbing, but descending), and did a whole lot swimming and jumping into waterfalls. It was a ridiculous amount of fun, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the 60+ year old Taiwanese man that completed all the optional jumps. Although not exactly graceful, you’ve got to admire him. Here’s a sweet video and a picture from the trip. It was definitely the most expensive thing I’ve done in New Zealand, but it was well worth it. I even splurged for the pictures and videos, because I knew the parents would enjoy it. Dad, you would have absolutely loved it! Mom, you might have cried…
Check out this video of one of the jumps: http://youtu.be/qFeXaC78ofk
Anyway, we set up camp in the daylight this time around, and were right in the valley between the massive mountains. We were right next to a lake. We made our own hot meals with the camping stove (spagetti, sauce, broccoli, and edam cheese, pretty gourmet!) and hung out sharing stories and wine until it started to rain a bit. We were tired at this point anyway, and were generally grateful that the rain held out. It ended up raining all night and the rest of the next day. It was disappointing, but we had seen most of what we wanted to in Queenstown at this point. Next time around we’re going to check out the Ice Bar, and maybe take a cruise out to Milford Sound. For more pictures, check my Facebook! I just got tagged in a couple dozen more pictures from the weekend.