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Journals from Spring Univ. of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

2013-03-19 Tramping to Peaks

Headed into the final stretch of the term in the next couple of weeks! Suddenly it's gotten pretty stressful trying to get essays written and studying for tests. I almost feel like I've forgotten how to actually go to school. But after essays there are three weeks of break, so that's what's getting me through! Last Wednesday one of my friends decided to have a fancy wine and cheese night at her flat. I was thoroughly impressed because everyone actually dressed up and brought cheese! I felt like such a fancy adult. There were definitely some delicious cheeses including a smoked gouda and a goat cheese feta (to die for). It was also fun to get fancy and wear heels and see everyone else in their best as well. It was so different than the States where only about half of the people actually dress up for a themed party. There were some other various late-night shenanigans that occurred, so I was happy that my lecture wasn't until 10 am the next day.

That weekend four friends and I went to Arthur's Pass, about two hours NW of Christchurch, to hike Avalanche Peak. Now, in one of my guide books it says that Avalanche Peak is the toughest day hike on the South island, so I was prepared for some steep walking, but I was not expecting what met us at the trail head. Immediately the trail starts up, but not on a nice path, over boulders and tree roots and all sorts of mess. It was essentially this same stuff all the way to the tree line. It was fun going up, though, because it was kind of like rock climbing and it felt extra adventurous. Above the tree line the trail started winding up a very narrow, very steep ridge that included more rock climbing. It was easier to follow than I expected (as long as I didn’t look around, anyway) and after some near tears moments of ‘how am I supposed to get up THERE’ we made it to the top! And I must say it was well worth it. The view was a gorgeous 360 of the surrounding mountains and Crow Glacier. Avalanche Peak sits at 1833 meters (or 6,013 ft) with a base at about 800 meters so just imagine how amazing and sheer and majestic everything looked! Literally over 1000 meters of mountains in every direction for miles. It was absolutely beautiful. Some mountains in the distance were snow capped, which made it even better. I was pretty mentally exhausted, so it took a while for me to really appreciate the view, but it was worth every minute of the strenuous climb.  At the summit there were even some keas, a native alpine parrot. The next day we woke up at a leisurely hour and took a short walk to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. Despite its being an easy walk, my legs were severely protesting the stairs on the trail, and it took us a bit longer than it probably should have. The falls were super pretty, though, and since it was misting it gave the falls a rather mystical feel. Very cool. After that we left Arthur’s village and headed back towards Canterbury. We did make a stop at Castle Hill, though. If anyone wants to see what it looks like just check out the final battle scene in The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s basically a giant jungle gym/climbing wall made from limestone rock formations. It was pretty awesome to go and play around and climb all over the rocks for an hour or so. I’m sure kids just love the place, since you could spend days exploring all the different routes and areas of the park. It was a nice whimsical contrast to the previous day. We got back to Christchurch pretty early, which was nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed my shower. Well, off to plan Easter break and write some essays! Until next time!

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