Snowy Sunrises and Slippery Slopes


Okay so that’s not the best alliteration I could have come up with but it’s the best I’ve got with class in a bit.

Now that I haven’t posted in about a month, it’s safe to say I’m due.  I’ve been in Dunedin for the past three weekends because most of us have had lots of assignments to catch up with.  There was a food festival in the North Island that Emma, Max, and I were supposed to go but my stand-by ticket didn’t work out.  Emma and Max has grabbed the last two and we sort of stood at the airport in a very cliché romance novel sort of way as we realized I was going to get left behind.  They tried to stay behind but I basically pushed them onto the plane and said I’d see them on Sunday.   My friend Dave and I headed to the local pound to cheer up.  Because really, what guarantees a good time more than puppies?  The weekend still ended up being a blast, as we had a couple of fun nights in town and a great day spent on Aramoana beach, where Zoe fell a couple of weeks back.

Mom, he fits in my suitcase real nice I promise!

Weekdays have become increasingly more eventful as the work load temporarily dies down before our month of finals.  We’ve been cooking delicious dinners just about every night, from roasted tomato basil soup with a chicken avocado salad to breakfast for dinner.  It’s been nice having a group of friends to cook with everynight, certainly makes me excited for apartment life in a couple of years.  We’ve also become regulars at the weely open mic nights at a small Irish pub called the Bog.  Max, our friend Mike, and I covered one of our favorite songs by the Lumineers.

The night we (pretended) to start a band.

Anyway, this weekend we headed out to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand.  The mountain range is called the Southern Alps, and for good reasons.  If someone had plopped me down at our campsite I would have absolutely said we were in Switzerland.  We got into our campsite before dark and set up our tents.  Immediately we realized how drastically the temperatures have been dropping since our last camping trip a couple weeks ago.  Most of us were in bed by 8, if not earlier.  Unfortunately the cold made sleep a difficult task, but thoughts of a warm hut the next night was invigorating enough to keep us going.


We set out to the hut around 11.  The hike started off with tons and tons of stairs – one guide said upwards of 1800.  It’s safe to say most of us are still walking sort of funny three days later.  There was a beautiful lookout after the stairs, after which point we headed into the rocky part of the hike.  Before we knew it every step was into at least an inch of snow.  We crossed over the ridge and literally had out breath taken right out of us.  It’s difficult ot put into words how small I felt at that moment.

Emma and I coming up towards the hut

Anyway, Emma and I were taking it slow in the back of pack and had trekked out a bit off the track to get a better view.  She dared me to snow angel in my t-shirt, and obviously I had to oblige.

Snow angel-ing

We trekked on for another half hour or so before we heard a booming sound to our right, and watched as an avalanche crashed down the mountain.  We were greeted by some yells of our friends on the porch of the hut, and immediately it became clear that this was no ordinary hut.  Set in the middle of the mountains and bright red, it felt more like a ski resort than a backpackers hut.

Sunrise over the mountains

We got into the hut around 4:30, and mostly just sat on the porch taking in the last rays on sunshine until dinner time.  After burritos we passed out pretty early since we were trying to catch the sunrise the next morning.  Compared to the night before, all of us were sweating in our sleeping bags.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been more grateful to be that overheated.

Hanging near the hut

The next morning we took about as slow as possible.  We all woke up for sunrise.  Some of the group was ambitious enough to throw on all their cold gear and hike up to a peak about 30 minutes out, but Emma and I just cuddled in our sleeping bags and peeped out the window to catch the sunrise.  Eventually we made it out to the deck, and were greeted with this view.  Note – absolutely no photo enhancing done here.

After eating a warm boat of oatmeal out on the porch and laughing as our friend Dave comatosed on one of the mattresses in the snow, a brilliant idea came.  We decided to use the mattresses as sleds.  We put on all of the waterproof gear we had and headed outside.  After trying to ride the mattresses like a snowboard and ending up with a face full of snow, the girls decided to hike back up the hill and race down.  It didn’t go exactly as well as planned, with a bit of crashing and flipping but no serious injuries.  We decided to get a bit more ambitious and start launching off of a small lip.


After a while the landing became a bit hard and face plants became more painful than funny, we decided to call it quits and head back down the mountain.  We took it slow until we crossed back over the ridge, at which point we decided it would be safer to take the trek as a Luge rather than trying to step down the slick edges.  The sharp switchbacks and large snow banks made it feel like a real racetrack, and even with a few causalities to most of our pants we couldn’t stop laughing.  We also saved at least a half hour or so.  It was then time to descend the dozens of flights of stairs at which point most people had shaky legs.  Luckily we were back in the car in no time, and even stopped to get fish and chips on the way home.  Life is good here.  One month left!


One response »

  1. Oh Alli – I Love your stories. You make it sound like you are talking directly to ME when you write and that, my darling daughter, is a gift. I love to hear about all of your adventures, of course, but I love seeing pictures of you smiling more than anything else. That’s my BIG wish for you. I want you to be happy with whatever you do and live life to the fullest. It sounds like you are off to a great start. I love you and can’t wait to see you. I don’t care what time your flight comes home. I will be there for the meet and greet. XOXO Mom

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