The Great (Walk) Goodbye

Lexi Ross
October 25, 2019

It’s crazy to think that in less than three weeks I will be leaving this gorgeous country and heading back to the US! I feel like just a few weeks ago I was trying to plan my first trip with my new IES Abroad friends and now I am on the other side of our final New Zealand adventure together.

I came to New Zealand not knowing too much about what I wanted to do and the places I wanted to go, but the one walk I knew I wasn’t going to leave without doing was the Abel Tasman Great Walk. My boyfriend did this same walk when he was here a few years ago and based on the pictures and stories he shared with me, I knew it was something that needed to be checked off the bucket list.

After a bit of (misguided) planning and some intense packing, me and three of my IES Abroad whenua (people) headed up to Nelson. We planned to do the walk (about 60km) over 3 days. However, this plan went off the rails when we realized that we had accidentally set ourselves up to walk 30km in one day. That’s right, half the walk. In one day. Great idea right???


We all ended up with battered feet and low morale by the end of the second day, but we ended up making the best of what was, as we call it, an amazing trainwreck. Rather than dwell on all the things that went wrong (and there were quite a few of them), I will now list them in a way that sounds much more positive!!!

1. Wekas are super interactive birds! They will come right up to you which is super different from a lot of the “run away” kinds of birds that we get in the US. As much as they are interested in getting to know you as a person, they are also invested in making sure your pack isn’t too heavy. If you look away for more than a second they will snatch something out of your bag, how sweet!

2. The blisters that you get from hiking twice as far as you planned can be a pain, but then you have the opportunity to show off all the cool socks and shoes you brought! Nothing worse than not getting the flaunt everything you stuffed into your 60-litre pack. I was lucky enough to sport the very fashionable combination of Chacos and bright pink running socks. Bonus: you don’t even have to tell people where you are from because wearing Chacos screams American!

3. If you’re anything like me, you have a super small bladder, which means you are 100% getting up in the middle of the night to pee. While stumbling out of your very cozy, packed in tent can be a bit difficult and cold and wet if it starts randomly raining in the middle of the night, you will get an amazing uninterrupted view of the starry sky. 10/10 would step in a puddle with my socks on again.

4. If morale and energy are running especially low, you can get a nice arm workout from doing the walk while waving your phone around in the air for service so you can book an aqua taxi home! Nonsarcastic positive: taking the aqua taxi was actually one of the most fun things I have done in NZ. It’s crazy to see the whole trail you’ve walked from the water. Even more of a bonus, the driver literally pulls the boat out of the water onto the trailer and drives around town while you’re still on the boat!!

One of the things that Candice, our IES Abroad Program Coordinator, said to us at our last dinner together is that the bad experiences are going to be the ones that we remember most vividly and fondly. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be looking back at this final trip with some of the best friends I’ve ever made as one wild, fun, beautiful disaster.



Lexi Ross

<p>Hi! My name is Lexi and I am a junior spending my semester abroad at the University of Canterbury. Although my home university is in a city, I absolutely love being outdoors! Some of my favorite activities are hiking (especially with dogs), swimming in lakes, and trail running. I can't wait to explore the beautiful South Island of New Zealand and share some of my adventures!</p>

Home University:
George Washington University, The
Needham, MA
African Studies
Explore Blogs