just trampin around… like a boss

I’m sure you’ve realized I’ve been including Australian slang in my past blogs, but before I delve into this saga I figured I would help you out a little with some New Zealander lingo.
1) Space saver [noun]: donut (no, not that delicious doughy treat but that runt of a tire sitting in the back of your trunk)
2) Tramp [verb]: hiking/backpacking but more awesome cause you’re in New Zealand!!!
3) Torch [noun]: flashlight
4)  Sand flies [noun]: New Zealand’s more annoying answer to the North American mosquito
5) Kiwi [proper noun]: affectionate nickname for a New Zealander
Now that that’s settled…
Eight Americans, one Mexican, and the lone Kiwi set off in two rental cars Friday afternoon for our six hour journey to the west coast of the south island to tramp the Copland track.  A mere hour into our adventure, a car swerves into our lane and forces us to hit a poorly placed rock off the side of the road resulting in a flat tire.  Lucky for us three girls, we had two strong men who put on the space saver in record time. Since this unfortunate incident occurred in the middle of Arthur’s Pass I managed to snap my first picture of the beautiful New Zealand mountains.
 
 
After some mighty careful driving on our not-so-trustworthy space saver we finally make it to the campsite and start setting up our tents in complete darkness.  I’ll be honest though.  As a very inexperienced camper, I was more of a cheerleader/torch holder for Dahlia than actual participant in the tent making process.  Dahlia and I snuggled up in her one man tent for the night only to be rudely woken up by someone (Andrew….) banging on a pot early the next morning.  Ominous fog foreshadowed the impending rainfall.  Despite the forecast, we set off bright eyed and bushy tailed on our 17 kilometer hike.  A mere two hours into the tramp, rain started pouring.  Scrambling over rocks and avoiding mud puddles became the foremost thought on everyone’s mind.  Though soon enough we were so wet there was no use in avoiding the mud puddles since our shoes were already squishing out excess liquid with every step we took.  Nearing the end of the six hour hike, I forced Dahlia to play a silly game with me so I could concentrate on something other than the fact that I was shivering and numb.  Seeing that hut at the end of that never-ending trail gave me that amazing feeling of relief when you know the worst is behind you.  With some help (for dexterity in my fingers was only a distant memory) I managed to slip off my backpack and into my bathing suit. The Copland track is such a well known track because of the hot springs it hosts.  Those hot springs could not have been more appreciated as they were that day by the ten of us.  The only downfall was the masses of sand flies swarming around the pools.  Regardless we relaxed in the pools for hours chatting and soaking in the beautiful view in front of us.  The best part was witnessing an avalanche on the other mountains.  That day made me appreciate and respect our dear mother nature much more than I ever had before.
 
back when we were dry…

 

looking a little miserable in the rain

 

the gorgeous hot springs
just so you can see how big the hot springs area was… thank Hayley for the video!
 
After overheating (who would have thought?) in the pools, everyone came back to the hut and made dinner.  Hands down the company was by far the best part of the trip.  All the exchange students I’ve met in New Zealand have the same mindset.  It’s hard to describe but I’ll try my best.  Even though I’ll probably only spend one weekend around these people, it didn’t even matter.  It was such an amazing mix of people, everyone joking with each other like we’d all known each other for years.  It was so refreshing to be seven hours away from any form of civilization (including electricity and cell phone reception). When the sun went down, we relied on torches to get around but mostly just sat by the fire in the darkness and swapped life stories.  I just sat there taking it all in, not wanting to take one moment for granted. It’s a different lifestyle that everyone here lives and it’s one about being real and having a good time, all the time no matter what you’re doing.
After adjusting our watches for daylight savings time, our exhausted bodies went to bed.  The next morning our prayers were answered with the shining sun to mark the beginning of a glorious day for tramping!  In high spirits the track that seemed to last so long just the day before flew by.  After a solid six hour hike and one man down with a sprained ankle, we made it back just barely avoiding getting soaked to the bone for the second time in twenty-four hours.  On the way home we had some slap happy conversations from lack of sleep and excess exposure to mother nature.  Weather this weekend was less than satisfactory and it didn’t end with the rain.  Near the top of Arthur’s Pass, conditions turned from normal to blizzard status in under sixty seconds.  Not only were we in a shit rental car, but we had a space saver which made the situation even more sketchy.  Dahlia, Hayley, and I all huddled together in the backseat and prayed we wouldn’t slip around the curves and off the top of the mountain.  Somehow we made it through the snow and down to a lower altitude.
 
one of the three suspension bridges

 

a legit rainforest

 

one of the dozens of creek passings

 

my beloved waterfall picture!

 

 
I’m sure I’ve already overstated the amazingness of New Zealand, but it really is in a class of its own.  Dahlia has found her niche, and I’m excited that I get a glimpse into her study abroad experience. It’s completely different from my own and I’m insanely jealous of all the awesome people she’s met.  The culture is so different because of the atmosphere. I can say without a doubt every single person I’ve met here is so friendly and outdoorsy.  These are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with and I’m so happy for Dahlia.  It’s the perfect place for her and I couldn’t be more excited to spend ten days of it with her. That’s all for now, but expect great things. Tomorrow’s another day I get to live.
 
Shit just got real,
Lena

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