More Mountain Adventures
Every few days here I find myself looking at a landscape that blows my mind. Typically I stand there at a loss for words, and now I’m blogging about it and I’m still at a loss for words. This country is spectacularly beautiful in so many ways. Last weekend I was skiing one day and mountain biking the next, from the same town. This week I had one day hiking in intense New Zealand sun and two days on snow surrounded by equally stunning but very different views. Living here is like being a little kid allowed to set up camp in the coolest playground imaginable.
This past week (5th week living here, woah) I went to some classes, cooked some meals in my flat and hung out with the flatmates. Monday night I got to see some friends who were in town who are currently studying in Christchurch. We hung out at the house and caught each other up on our cities and adventures and talked life and good music. Tuesday night we headed out to Long Beach for a birthday bonfire for two international students celebrating birthdays out here. We did some cave exploring, fire watching and wine drinking. A few people camped there to see the sunrise in the morning – unfortunately I didn’t get to do that again and headed back to town around midnight.
Wednesday I woke up to the most beautiful weather I’d seen in awhile (probably a week, but whatever) and decided I needed an adventure. Mt. Cargill is only a few miles from my house and I’d been meaning to climb it. I did a bit of research on the trail and how to get there and screenshotted the directions on my phone, packed up a lunch and laced up my hiking boots and started walking north. I meant to catch a bus up to the trailhead but it didn’t really work out. The bus system here is a little less than reliable and I didn’t feel like waiting as I wasn’t sure just how long the roundtrip hike would take me. Three miles up the road I found myself in a place called Bethune’s Gully, a park with picnic tables beside a river and mountain biking trails. I followed my screenshotted directions through to the far end of the park and, already feeling a bit tired, located the head of the Mt Cargill trail. In retrospect the trip up wasn’t very long or challenging. Having never hiked alone before, though, it was a brand new mental battle of not knowing how much further I had to go and having no one to distract me from the upward pitch of the trail. That said, it was incredibly silent and peaceful to be alone in a new forest, and so rewarding when I got to the top and looked out over the rolling hills and coastline of my new city. Hard to believe I get to live here.
Thursday night I made it out to the bars in Dunedin for the first time.
Friday I left for a second consecutive weekend in Wanaka – already trying to pretend that place is my vacation spot, because when I grow up and come into some money (ha) I will be purchasing a home there. Skied full days Saturday and Sunday on some really fun demo skis. The winners were a pair of Atomic slalom skis and second place goes to some Rossignols. Don’t tell the demo dude that I’m not actually buying, though – he’s expecting me in his shop any day now to drop a few grand.
On a grander scale, I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to take a few months and enjoy the view. The pace of life here is tangibly slower than back home. I don’t watch TV, my material possessions fit in a backpack, I drink less coffee and I listen to more music. I don’t hear sirens often, I have an easily manageable workload, I’m constantly meeting new and interesting people from all over New Zealand, the US and the world. I get to stop and chat and take a day off to walk up that mountain in the distance. I get to look around at these views that are so beautiful they make my head want to explode.