Kia Ora Everyone!
My time abroad is flying by and I’ll admit my flatmates and I are in denial that our time together will come to an end. Uniflats hosted a farewell dinner for all international students on the 1 of October even though we still have little over a month left. This made reality really hit us that we have to leave this paradise and our new friends soon. However, my flat is already planning when we’ll come together in the future! We have one week of lectures left and then the month of final exams begins. I have three final exams, on the 24 of October, 31 of October and the 9 of November. I hope to do lots of traveling the two weeks before my first final and studying in between trips.
A couple of weekends ago a group of 11 of us went to Mount Cook National Park. It was the most beautiful place I’ve been so far! We did lots of tramping and I was continually amazed at the views! We left Friday afternoon and drove 3 and 1/2 hours to get there. Along the way, we listened to lots of good music and made a couple of stops at the blue lakes. The water was SO blue, none of us had ever seen anything like it!
When we got to Aoraki/Mount Cook the first thing we did was hike to the Tasman Glacier, only about a 1-hour roundtrip. As we left we watched the clouds and the mountain peaks turn pink from the sunset. We went to our hostel to check-in and make dinner. The next morning we woke up at 4:30 to do the Hooker Valley track for sunrise. We started our tramp in the dark while using our phone flashlights to see the trail. It was so amazing to watch the mountain peaks rise out of the dark and the clouds and watch the valley transform with the sunrise. The valley and clouds turned pink and the views were breathtaking! We made many stops along the way and took lots of pictures. When we made it to the glacier lake at the end of the track we sat for a while and just took in the views.
We slowly made our way back to the hostel not wanting to leave the beautiful valley and made breakfast. I would definitely recommend doing the Hooker Valley track for sunrise since it was beautiful and other people weren’t out yet. The Hooker track is the most popular tramp and very easy, so everyone does it. When we were leaving so many people were just starting the track and we were very thankful for getting to enjoy the valley by ourselves.
After breakfast, we were all really tired so we took a two-hour nap before our next tramp. After napping we made our way to the Red Tarns Car Park. This hike was a steady climb uphill and had views overlooking the Mount Cook Town and valley. This hike was kind of a let down since the tarn wasn’t red and the views weren’t the best ones. We went back to the hostel after hiking down and made spaghetti for dinner. When we got to the hostel we discovered three other girls from my complex were sharing a room with us! That night we played games and prepared for the challenging hike the next morning. We were taking on Sealy Tarns, known as the stairway to heaven due to the 2,200 steps to the top.
Sealy Tarns was very difficult but absolutely beautiful! The entire climb to the top is overlooking the Hooker Valley and the surrounding mountains. It was my favorite tramp even though it was difficult. When we made it to the top we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and took in the views. We stayed on top for about an hour until others began making their way up. The way down was so steep and everyone’s legs were shaking by the time we got to the bottom. We rested and stretched our legs before making the journey back to Dunedin with a short stop at a Cafe for dinner along the way.
This last weekend we got to spend in Dunedin. Friday night we decided to go camping at Long Beach in the caves. It was so much fun making s’mores and sleeping with the penguins. We got to the beach late and set up our two tents in the dark and started a fire to warm up. Once again we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner along with some other snacks like s’mores with Tim Tams and belVita crackers. Halfway through the night, we saw a penguin run to the back of the cave where they sleep. We also went out to the beach and admired the stars and their reflection in the wet sand. We could also see the bioluminescence in the sand when you touched it! After the fire went out we climbed into our sleeping bags in our tents and went to sleep. Throughout the night you could hear the penguins screeching until they left for the water early in the morning. We woke up early enough to watch the sunrise through our tent window turning the inside of the cave and the water an orange tint. We then packed everything up and made our way home.
The next night, we went to the Fleetwood Mac concert as a spur of the moment decision. We bought the tickets half an hour before the show started, and I’m so glad we did! The concert was in the school stadium and it was packed since one of the band members is from New Zealand. The concert was so good and totally worth it! One of my favorite songs is Landslide, and they performed that one and many other good ones.