Mount Cook to Queenstown

Being here is being on an endless high. A friend told me that he felt like being out in nature opens up your senses like a drug, and he was right. When you’re out there, you can just really feel the wind on your face or your toes in the sand, you can really hear the waves crashing and all of a sudden you’re all together in tune with the fact that the world is so much greater than you are. It spins the way it’s supposed to, and of it’s own accord.

I’ve been dreaming about New Zealand for years, so I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous country itself or the thrill of realizing those dreams that’s getting me on this high but I’m sure to some extent, it’s a combination of both. This has to be the most beautiful place in the world. Even though I’ve only traveled a little, I feel confident in that statement and I know that the only benefit to the sun setting on this place is that it makes you appreciate the hours of daylight even more.

We finally left Christchurch on Monday and began our journey to Mount Cook. Bennett and Pete have been incredible to travel with – we all have similar senses of humor, look out for each other and get along so well, and I’m just really grateful to share this experience with them. Along the way to Mount Cook, we saw Lake Tekapo – a massive expanse of bright blue tucked neatly among enormous snow-capped mountains. We frantically pulled over and ran out, excited like little kids, to soak up the view and celebrate feeling free. We explored the lake area and the little church that looked over the lake which I loved, because you can’t get much closer to God than you can with a view like that.

Then, we drove by Lake Pukaki, which is set against the dramatic back drop of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. It was too foggy to see the mountain the first day so we came back the next, but the lake itself took my breath away. Never have I seen water quite that color – a unique and unbelievable shade of creamy crystal light blue. It was enormous and stunning, the kind of sight that can only get more beautiful the longer you look at it, and we pulled over a few times to run around and enjoy.

The rest of the drive to Mount Cook was amazing. We were surrounded by incredible mountains the whole way past Lake Pukaki and made it to our sick hostel in Mount Cook village, got some dinner, watched a funny little movie they had lying around called Love Potion #9 and got some sleep in.

The next day, we hiked up to Sealy Tarns point, which is (possibly) the midway point to Mueller Hut, but it was getting too windy and rainy to keep going up. The brush was so green and the view from the stop point… It looked like you were looking out on heaven and hell in the same place. There were rays of sunshine coming through the clouds and shining down in between the mountains and at the base was black and grey gravel spotted with little bright blue lakes that were fed by a grey river snaking through. Unreal. We sang songs all the way down and began the drive to Queenstown, stopping again at Lake Pukaki on the way.

The drive itself was beautiful. We went through gorgeous mountain passes and watched the sheep go about their days on the flatter stretches of land. I’m so glad we’re here in the fall because the yellows, reds and oranges add this whole other dimension of beauty. We stopped at Wanaka to stroll around and check out the pretty lake and made it to Queenstown. Unfortunately, our twisty and windy drive in to town was dark so we couldn’t see the surroundings but we did have Ferg Burger for dinner which made up for it. I swear it was larger than my head and I am now 11 pounds heavier.

Despite the rain and the burger remnants in my stomach, I managed to do the Nevis bungy jump earlier today. That means that I threw myself off a tiiiiiiiiiny little ledge sitting a whole 134 meters over a giant river in the mountains… It by far was the most terrifying and thrilling thing I’ve ever done in my life but I am SO glad I did it! I have skydiving booked for tomorrow so hopefully the weather holds out!

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