new zealand, be less awesome please

So I’ve decided writing a blog post would be less painful than continuing research on my biology paper. I currently have seventeen tabs open devoted solely to this lovely assignment and awaiting my precious and (currently very limited) attention span.  Remind me to never take a science course again!
Your fun fact of the day is at the end of an Australian happy birthday song you’ll hear: hip hip (everyone together now) hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! It still makes me chuckle every time I hear it. Oh subtle cultural differences… you’ll never get old.
As for the rest of my New Zealand adventures there was never a disappointing day.  After a full day recovery from my first epic tramping weekend, Dahlia and I took a simple half hour bus ride to Sumner beach.  Unlike most beaches in Australia, this beach was not for sunbathing.  True to Kiwi fashion there were some rocks that we scrambled around during low tide.  We may have gotten a little camera happy but I couldn’t help it! I only had ten days to capture and appreciate New Zealand’s dazzling scenery.  Plus you can’t blame me since I’ve been staring at corn fields for the past twenty years of my life.  We walked up through a suburb to get to stunning views of some cliffs.  It was a gorgeous day so I got to wear one of the few tank tops I brought and appropriately soaked up that spring sunshine.  Dahlia made for a great walking companion since she didn’t mind my frequent and sporadic oh-my-God-I-am-in-New-Zealand-and-life-is-perfect interjections in the conversation.
 
Sumner beach
 
self timer win
cliffs near Taylor’s Mistake
 
Wednesday rolled around before we both knew it and planning for the weekend quickly became a pressing matter.  The plan was to tramp several short trails through the Aoraki national park.  After checking the forecast, rain was back to haunt us again.  In an attempt to avoid the rain, we booked a rental car that day to pick up for the next morning.  Thursday we drove to our campsite with the intention of hiking the Sealy Tarns track before nightfall.  But on the way to our final destination we made a pit stop at Lake Tekapo (tee-cuh-poo).  Also known as the most beautiful lake ever (see picture).  After stopping by an i-SITE to check out the routes, we set off on foot under the brilliant blue sky.  An exhausting but thankfully short hike up the trail gave us breathtaking views of the lakes and Mt. Cook.  We ended up tramping through a few short patches of snow/tiny balls of ice that look deceivingly like snow before heading back down.  Contact with snow was definitely not on my study abroad bucket list but I can be flexible.
 
Lake Tekapo… told ya 🙂

 

Mount Cook: New Zealand’s tallest mountain

 

on the way up

 

short snow patch

 

whewww… at the top
 
Back at the campsite, we all set up our tents and this time I actually helped! You can ask Dahlia.  She’ll tell you I’m a pro now, mostly because it’s actually really easy to set up a tent.  Earlier at the i-SITE we heard a swing bridge was under construction on one of the tracks we were considering for the next morning.  Dahlia and I investigated to see if rock hopping across the river would be an option.  Despite a misleadingly large number of rocks we couldn’t find a path across the river without getting our feet wet.  When night started creeping in, I got more and more excited.  Why you ask? I’m sure you’ve heard of the northern lights.  What about the southern lights? According to the ever helpful Wikipedia, they frequent New Zealand and there was a strong possibility for an appearance for that very night.  We waited until midnight for the show to begin, but never saw anything so we gave up and went to bed.  Very disappointing… but still! I was in a place where I could have potentially seen them. Somehow (and don’t ask me why) that’s enough for me.
The next morning we reaffirmed our failed attempt to cross the river and gave up on that track.  We walked a short hike up to the top of a ridge where on the other side was the Tasman glacier.  And yes, it was as cool as it sounds.  The lake was a creamy light turquoise color from the silt on the glacier and it made for another camera happy affair!  We were fortunate to have perfect weather both days and it made all the difference in every picture we took.  The drive home was remarkably uneventful and we quickly filled up our empty stomachs and rushed to our computers to post pictures on Facebook and make everyone jealous.
 
the Tasman glacier (the black stuff back by the mountains)
Zak, Dahlia, Hayley, Jenn, and I
 
thank Hayley again for the video!
With one day left on our rental car, we decided to make the most of our money by taking the hour trip into Arthur’s Pass to go play around at Castle Hill.  Any rock climbers out there know exactly what this place is.  Basically it’s a random assortment of hundreds of giant rocks in the middle of a mountain chain.  Pretty cool right?  Earlier in the week Dahlia and I practiced our balance by slacklining with some climbers and by the end were starting to get the hang (terrible pun intended) of it. Sadly this did not translate over into any gain of rock climbing skills for me.  There were still plenty of rocks to scramble over and, of course, take pictures on.  It’s just massive and totally overwhelming. There are so many different nooks and crannies that you can get lost in.  Talk about the best hide-and-go-seek game ever!

looking pretty legit
I might suggest clicking on the panoramas so you can get a better view of the rocks!

 

in the midst of all the rocks

 

a creeper shot of a guy doing parkour on the rocks
 
The rest of my time in New Zealand flew by and before I knew it I was saying goodbye to people I’d just met.  I loved every minute of that trip, and I already miss gushing about how awesome everyone and everything is to Dahlia every night.  Within the space of ten days I became close friends with so many people and I left with lots of see-you-laters and until-next-times because goodbyes were too final.  So here’s my shout out to all you ilam kids. Wish I was still there with you guys!  It’s only goodbye if you make it so.
Missing it already,
Lena

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