When NZ is more than just a desktop background

Jami Weinstein
March 29, 2017

I promise I didn't steal this photo from Google Images, this is actually New Zealand.

Here is some advice: lose yourself in exploration. I would not have found these unique sites if I didn't.

On my way to Wanaka, there was so much to see. Mountains encompassing us, lakes throughout, and a sunset in the distance. As you take in your surroundings, pay attention to signs on the side of the road. That is how I discovered the Clay Cliffs (pictured below) in Omarama. They looked and actually felt like clay.

The saying "life is a marathon, not a sprint" was really fitting for this tramp. Never doubt someone's ability to hike 16 km (conversion is 10 miles, still trying to figure out this whole metric system that everyone else in the world uses) up and down a mountain. Roy's Peak may have been the hardest hike I have ever done, taking a break at every turn, and hyperventalating after 10 seconds of beginning the hike, I somehow made it to the summit in ONLY 5 hours (and 2 hour return)!

Honestly, I would've been satisfied if I only made it to this spot pictured below (by Grant Wible) of my friend Lisa and I, but we had come so far that we were not giving up. I was a sprinter when I was in high school, but nowadays, I'm not really into that (mainly because I've lost all athleticism). Like they say, life is a marathon. So take your time and take in all of life's beauty and adventures.

Roy's Peak Summit. Wow, you're so attractive, Wanaka.

Wanaka had me seeking thrills every free second I could get; this led me to travel to Mt. Cook/Aoraki the next weekend. One of the best parts of traveling in New Zealand is the scenery on the way to your destination. Proof below: Lake Tekapo. 

There's a first for everything, right? You may be surprised to find out that this was my first time ever camping (not counting the one night in 5th grade at overnight camp, that was a bust), and it was definitely one of the most memorable experiences.

The first night at the White Horse Hill campsite, sleep did not exist; it was incredibly windy and uncomfortable. At first I thought that camping was just not my thing.

The next morning we made our way over the bridges and through the mountains on the Hooker Valley track (pictured below) which took us about an hour and a half to walk. 

7/9 of us climbed this boulder because why not?

Photo by Molly Budgen

Remember when I said Roy's Peak was the hardest hike I've ever done? Try the Sealy Tarns track, 2,000 brutal stairs with steps saying "1,000 to go" every so often (we saw that about 3 different times). Some people call it the "Stairway to Heaven," I'd beg to differ.

The journey was worth the destination though.

Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. In that moment at Sealy Tarns, I felt like I was lost in the upside down (if you don't get it, watch the show Stranger Things).

Sealy Tarns was just the beginning. To get to Meuller Hut, I think we hit just about every element of a hike. We relied on the bright orange markers to find our way as we were blown over by the powerful winds while tramping uphill, jumping from rock to rock, climbing boulders, army crawling (maybe that was just me), slipping on the rocky looping trails, and probably anything else you could think of.

Throwing some New Zealand facts at you now: the Kea Bird pictured below is a native parrot in the South Island's alpine environment, it is olive green with scarlet underwings. If you ever stumble upon one of these beautiful creatures, don't feed them human food otherwise they will become dependent on that and they will not be able to fend for themselves.

The second night of camping consisted of; two hours of sleep (or lack thereof), raging winds, our tent collapsing on us, sleeping in the kitchen of the hut, and waking up at 6am to watch the sunrise. Sweet as.

Camp at Meuller Hut! I promise it really was some of the most fun I have ever had. It turns out, this is my thing! I still cannot believe I camped in the middle of the mountains accompanied by some people I just met about three weeks prior to. And now I don't know how I ever survived without them (literally, I would've been doomed camping without their knowledge).

New Zealand, you've stolen my heart and taught me how to pack everything I need in just a backpack (I bet you're so proud of me mom)!

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Jami Weinstein

<p>Hey there! My name is Jami Weinstein, I am from the north suburbs of Chicago and I am a junior majoring in speech language pathology at Indiana University! I am thrilled to be sharing my study abroad experience from across the world, behind my camera, in Christchurch, New Zealand. When I snap a photograph, I feel as if I have jumped into a whole new perspective of life, and to me, words can&rsquo;t explain a single moment, but a photo captures a story. Follow along on my journey as I make the moments count. Adventure awaits!</p>

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Indiana University
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