I Love…. Thrill: Adventures in New Zealand (Day 4-6)

“I will never bunjy jump. I will do a lot of things in life, but not bunjy jump” —-Kim in 2013

Fast forward to 9:00am on New Years Morning of 2014. I am standing in line to bunjy jump. I have number 19 and 58 written in big markers on either hand, indicating my weight and my order of jumping. My heart is racing a bit, but not as much as I anticipated. I was more concerned about the rain coming down, and if my braids were still in. Is there something wrong with me if this is my biggest concern? Thankfully I had already paid the day before, so I couldn’t back out. The rain, the cold, any last minute fears, would not stop me. As I stepped up, and they started wrapping my feet with the cords and patting, I thought my heartbeat alone was going to push me off the ledge. I was starting to feel the nerves.  I wasn’t scared about the end result. I knew I would survive and nothing would go wrong. The adrenline just kicks in, and its rewiring your mentality to quiet it. Except, nothing I said internally worked. My heart kept beating. Let me rephrase that, it was rapidly pounding and felt like it would break through and open up my chest at any moment.

My logic was… if I start 2014 with this, it is going to be an incredible year. It’s not that I felt that I had to do it, there was no pressure from anyone, nor myself. But It was a need. I have done a lot of crazy things in my life (hiked Machu Pichhu alone, sailed 700 miles back from Bermuda, ran a few half marathons, skydived, lived in the Bahamas, skiied Mt. Washington… call me crazy yet? I think they call it an “adrenaline junky”). Crazy is what keeps me going. I am always looking for the next crazy, the next thing to make my heart beat louder than the last. Bunjee jumping was not on my initial list, for no reason other than I had no interest in jumping off a ledge and being saved by rubber bands. Now, I am thankful it made it to my bucketlist.

I don’t necessarily live by the “YOLO” or “live with no regrets” mentality. I actually make it a point to not hold anything as a regret in life… everything happens for a reason, even if it seems stupid at the time. Even if it is dissapointing, disheartening, or sad, it will come around to make sense one day. It is not worth runing this moment, this breath in life, if you can’t change it.   I like to take advantage of the moment I am in .And what better way to be in the moment than jumping off a 200 foot bridge?

On the plane to New Zealand, I read My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir. It was one of those books that you finished, and you were so proud of her, but also motivated to do something yourself. It is about a journalist who is in a quarter-life crisis, and makes a resolution to “do something everyday that scares you”. I just love this idea. I tried it for a few days, but there isn’t enough in life that scares me. I would be better off with doing one thing a day to have me be in the moment.Anyways, this book is truly an inspiration and I highly recommend reading it,it will get you off the couch, and make you feel good about your life. She is funny, she is insightful, but most importantly, she makes you be reflective.  It will make you appreciate every experience, even something as simple as speaking to a stranger, or trying a new food. Every experience matters.

Now, Back to reality. I am on the bridge, waving to Greg. I tell the guys to push me, and they laugh. They ask me if I want to touch the water, and I say ” Surprise me”. And then?  I just go. There is no time to think, there is no thinking period. I just go. And it’s over in 2 1/2 minutes. It was really very easy, much easier than I thought it would be.  I was able to add it, and cross it off of my Bucket List at the same time. If you follow your breath from one moment to the next, everything else will just happen organically. 

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Afterwards, Greg and I made a 3 Hour drive to Lake Pukaki, and an overnight in a hostel in Mount Cook. There wasn’t much to see on the drive to Lake Pukaki. The only town of interest would be Wanaka, but it was foggy and rainy, so it just looked like all the other lakes. Apparently Wanaka is a huge destination for summer houses. We drove through downtown of Wanaka, which had a ton of restaurants, bars and shops. It seemed less “hippie” and more normal than those in Queenstown (just 30 min on the other side of the mountain).

There wasn’t much else to see on the drive besides Lake Pukaki. We did drive through Linds pass, which felt like it was something out of the Dr. Seuss book or movie. I felt like I was one of the balls of fur from Horton Hears a Who. We stopped so that Greg could nap (obviously) and I went and hiked around the lookout. It was certainly a scene that I will never see again!

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The next stop was Lake Pukaki, which is utterly breathtaking. There are no words. In a very different way than Queenstown was. It kind of was like, we were driving and had been in some pretty gross towns (Tinsel, an old mining town.. with absolutely nothing), and out of no where came Pukaki. It  was one of the most beautiful surprises of my life. It is the epitome of turqoise, there is no other way to describe it. It is caused by sediment coming from the mountains, and it is the must unreal color, fake color ever. Had I not seen it for myself, I would think it did not exist. We spent some time walking around and in the lake, and just amazed by the vivid colors. We drove all along the perimeter of the lake to get to Mt. Cook. The hostel was grimy, it was downpouring for our entire time, and it was cold.  Downpouring. Drenching. Freezing. It didn’t give Mt. Cook a good name for us. We were supposed to do 3 glacier hikes, but ended up just looking at pictures of the glaciers. As Greg itierated, “the pictures of it look very nice”. We left the next day, and I stopped at a short, 40 minute glacier hike. I did it alone, and Greg played on his phone in the car. It was very neat and interesting to see, but I was soaked for the remaining 3 hour drive. We arrived in Christchurch where we met up with Miles and Carolines family. We had a low-key night in Christchurch for Miles’ last night as a single man. It was great to be reunited with our fellow Americans.

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The glacier at the end of the freezing cold hike.

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Hiking by myself to the glacier. Notice the wetness.

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In Front of Lake Pukaki.

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I Love…. Exploring: Adventures in New Zealand (Day 2)

We haven’t even been in New Zealand 24 hours yet, and I feel like we need a week just to rest. Today we had a big drive ahead of us… for a total of 10 hours. While it was only about 400ish km, the roads were very windey, singlelaned, and you had to drive slow. The alarm went off at 5:45 and we were in our rental car by 6:00. It was foggy, overcast, and we had a lot of snacks (thankfully theres a grocery store 1 mile from the hotel that we stocked up on food at ). Little did we know, this would be the most beautiful drive, of our lives. When looking into rental cars vs buses, we definitely splurged and spoiled ourselves with a rental car. Had we used a bus for transportation here, and to Christchurch, we probably would have spent $150 each, instead of about $400 each (with gas). However, it was extremely worth the expense, since we were able to pull over as we pleased. The number of times that I had Greg pulled over, he should of driven off without me. However, there were so many little nooks to see along the way. In my itinerary, I had printed out a map with each place to stop, however, this proved unnecessary as each location had signs/postage along the way.

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First 1/2 hour of our drive.

 

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Places to Stop on the Drive to Milford Sound:

  •  Te Anau (Small town, right on a river with some artsy/country stores and resturaunts). When we came it was very foggy, very early, and raining. We did not stay but 5 minutes to get gas.
  • Mirror Lakes,- “lake matheson” reflections of Earl Mountains, beech forest & wetlands- it was very beautiful, with massive trees. However, due to the rain/fog, we were unable to see the famous “mirror” reflection.

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    Mirror Lakes on a Cloudy and Rainy Day

  • Knobs Flat interpretational display, geology and wildlife.
  • Pops View
  • Holly Ford Valley- The “divide”- My favorite viewing point of the entire drive. I felt like we were at the end of the world. I have never had such massive mountains/ cliffs/rocks surrounding me. I felt like an ant, I felt like the mountains could squash me.
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Throughout the drive we saw thousands of waterfalls

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This was my favorite part of the drive… I felt like we would see a dinosaur any minute.

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By far, my favorite pit stop. We had to wait here to go through a one way tunnel, through the middle of this mountain.

  • Homer Tunnel 1200m rock hewn tunnel, car park and nature walk- It was a bit scary going into the tunnel… it is 1 way and very dark. We had to wait on one side for about 15 minutes, which wasn’t long enough. This was the most interesting scenery that we were to see!
  • The Chasm waterfall walk, waterfalls and water-sculpted rocks, (20 mins) – At this stop, I did the walk and Greg stayed in the car to eat. It reminded me of the Gorge in NH… but the rocks, shaped by the water, were some of the neatest that I ever saw!If you have the time, it is definitely worth the quick trip.

 

Besides these spots that were marked on my list to stop at, we found another 5-6 that were truly magestic. I can’t count the number of times that we stopped to just look, in amazement.

I am just putting it in writing, that this was the most beautiful drive that I have ever done. The changes in scenery within just 30 minutes, is as if you were driving from Texas to Antarctica.. it truly is so contrasting and changing at every moment. For that matter, and for my awesome music selection, the drive went by fast. . Greg was a phenomenal chauffeur.

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Let’s just say I am obsessed with these fields of flowers… 1 of 243924 pictures

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The colors of everything were so very vivid.

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Miles and miles and miles of this

Once at Milford Sound, we did a 2 hour boat tour, saw the “fijords”. The tourguide talked the entire time, telling us the history of the people in the land. Because we were so focused on the views, a lot of it didn’t stick. But we can read up on it later. For most of the boatride, it was overcast, but it did lighten up at the end, and for our drive back. Reading up on Milford Sound, it says 95% of the time it is overcast/rainy, so the fact that we even saw a little sun was miraculous. There were SO many waterfalls. Prior to this trip, I had never even seen one. I fell in love with the sight and sound of them.

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Cloudy day at Milford Sound

 

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Waterfall after Waterfall… Enter romantic comment here.

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Despite it being a cloudy day, it truly was breathtaking.

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After the boat tour, we hopped in the car and  turned around for the 5 hours back. This drive went by much faster since we didn’t stop at so many places. It was amazing, we had the sunroof open, the windows down, and the sun was shining as hot as it could for a summer day. We saw 934092384 more sheep than I have ever in my entire life. This is no exaggeration.

Because of our long long day, we got back at around 6pm and just  took it easy. We had apps at the hotel restaurant, got a bottle of wine from the grocery store and snuggled in bed early (And yes, it was still light out).

5 words to describe this part of the trip? Magestic, Enchanting, Unreal, Beautiful, Peaceful

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