I Swear Every Day Gets Even Better

Last Wednesday was the day of our grand and glorious Routeburn Track hike in Queenstown, adventure capital of the world! If you’ve ever seen pictures of New Zealand, a photo of this famous hike probably popped up because it’s so pretty. After an hour of van driving going wayyy too fast along a curvy mountain cliff road in which several people got sick along the way, we finally made it to our starting point. It was a dreary day so the views weren’t as great as they could have been, however it was really nice to get out of the city and breathe the fresh air of the forest. It’s 35,000 years old and practicaly untouched by humans so it couldn’t be any cleaner! It was freezing cold and raining but we came well prepared and even stopped at the turn around point for some much needed hot chocolate. When we returned to Queenstown after our 6 mile hike, we made sure to visit a famous burger joint called the Fergburger (where we proceeded to eat a frightening amount of food).

The next day was our free day, and lots of the people in my group took this time to go skydiving, bungee jumping, and white water rafting. I sadly realized that I’m barely 2 weeks into my more than 2 month long journey so I decided to hold off on the high adrenaline experiences til later. Instead, I found some somewhat reliable Wi-Fi and got to skype my family and friends for the first time since I’ve been abroad. Then I got some much- needed alone time from being with the group 24/7 (still love you guys though I swear!) and went to explore Queenstown as the sun set on the mountains. It’s a beautiful little town with a great boardwalk around Lake Wakatipu as well as rose gardens and trees galore to make my heart happy.

The next day we started our 9 hour bus ride to Fox Glacier. Yes, 9 hours. But to make it fair, they split it up nicely for us so we get to stop every hour or two for a snack break or quick hike. Our first pitstop was at Lake Wanaka where we saw a giant eel (the one and only bad thing I can find about New Zealand is that there are eels in literally every body of water). Our next stop was at Fork Farm, a local sheep farm where we learned all about the process of raising sheep and sheering them for their wool. I got to actually pet a sheep soooo I was pretty much in heaven. There was one brown one that was extra curly and it practically let me cuddle it, therefore dreams again came true. Later on during our drive, we stopped at Mount Aspiring National Park and went on the Haast pass {death} hike where we marched up some insanely steep switchbacks and came to an absolutely gorgeous view of the valley we had just hiked up from.

On Sunday, we took a sunrise hike around Lake Matheson which was extremely beautiful and a great start to an even greater day. The lake is known for being highly reflective of the mountain range behind it. I took a picture and turned it upside down and couldn’t even decipher which side was up! After lunch we headed to Fox Glacier itself and went on a hike down the valley up to the glacier. It was really interesting to learn about how much it has changed over time and the process of advancing and retreating depending on weather. The sky was a perfect blue compared to most hikes we have had bad luck with and it was awesomeeee to see how cool the glacier was up close. There were a lot of safety precautions because earthquakes are quite frequent and the rock walls of the valley often become landslides, but it was a wonderful adventure! After cooking spaghetti dinner with my friends, a group of us went to see glowworms! If you don’t know what glowworms are, just know they are some of the most fascinating little creatures. We hiked out of town and down a path through the forest, trying to find our way in the darkness. We turned off all of our flashlights so we could pick out the glowing specks and it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand if you put it right in front of your face. Good thing there’s nothing to be scared of in New Zealand! We were having a hard time finding the occasional rare glowworm along the path until we came up to a fallen tree and it’s roots were out and covered in the glowing specks. I sat down in front of it and got lost for 5 minutes just staring into the darkness and the little glowing dots- it looked like a galaxy! Lets just say my eyes were really confused when we finally got out under the lights of the town again.

Today marked the halfway point of my time in New Zealand… which is extremely sad but I’m so so so very grateful for all that has already happened and can’t wait to see what’s coming up next!

Here are some pictures from the week!