A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about hiking

The Outback

Uluru and a whole lot more…

After 5 weeks in the car, we were happy to turn in our keys and fly to Sydney for a stay with one of Marin’s besties, Sarah. More to come on our amazing times in Manly with Sarah and her lovely life in our next entry.

Right smack in the middle of our 2 week Sydney stint, we flew to Alice Springs in central Australia. We spent 2 nights and 3 days on a camping tour through the highlights of the Red Center, namely Uluru/Ayer’s Rock, Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, and Kings Canyon. I have given the Aboriginal name and the White Australian name for both. There has been quite a bit of unrest as to whom this land actually belongs. I will spare you our views on the politics of it all here but if anyone wants to have a conversation about it in person at a later date, Nikki would be more than willing to share her very strong views on this topic. And Marin would be happy to give the moderate, “well I can see it from both ways” perspective. ☺

The Red Center earned its name because it is a desert comprised of red sand as a result of the large red rock formations scattered throughout. Until recently, the Northern Territory experienced very little rain and remained an arid environment. However, over the past 5 years there has been a tremendous amount of rainfall (bring on the ice age!). This has led to lush green vegetation sprinkled throughout the red rock and sand with a clear blue sky behind it all. The result is one of the most beautiful scenes that we’ve ever experienced…truly unparalleled! Marin was so inspired by this natural beauty that she snapped a good 500 photos – lots of photos of rocks here. This was a good spot to play with the infinite number of settings on her camera, so some still need to be photoshopped.

Cool salt lake:

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Our tour involved us and 12 other backpackers being shuttled around the Outback in an old school bus by one of the cutest Aussie tour guides you can imagine, Ryan. He had the dimples, the accent, and the kind-hearted, gentle nature.

Needless to say we were in love with him from the get go. Here is our Ryan photoshoot:

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We enjoyed not having to do the driving ourselves as we covered roughly 1500K in 3 days. We sat in the back of the van and slept, ate ice cream, read, enjoyed the beautiful desert scenery (even a few wild camels ran by), and watched Sex and City DVDs on our laptop- thanks for the loaners Sarah :-)!

Our eclectic traveling crew was pretty comical, including a few Brits, another lesbian couple (they were Aussies and so we loved them), an older couple (they were older than us and so we loved them, too), a German, a gal from Holland (we lovingly called her Dutchie), two Canadians and an Asian couple. Pretty much the United Nations. All in all, a good mix and everyone got along! Nobody bothered to learn each other’s names so we just referred to each other by country name. We were “Team America.” Here’s the group and some pictures of the camping scene – note Nikki holding court per usual:

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We all got cozy quite quickly as we slept outside in neat contraptions called swags. Yes, there were many jokes made about enjoying a Swag Shag…haha! A swag is basically a suped-up sleeping bag. There were not any hot rims attached, but there was quite a bit of padding, a waterproof outer shell, and a pillow. Nikki was thrilled to find the pillow- camping is a million times better with a pillow! No tents were involved, which was awesome because it allowed us to see the millions of stars stretched across the long sky. We had fun trying to make sense of the constellations in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nighttime camping pic by the fire:

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Although this may sound torturous to some, we awoke each morning at 4:30 am, so as to experience the sunrise over one of the many beautiful rocks that we visited. We also wanted to avoid this:

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We also caught the sun set each evening around some more gorgeous rocks. It was def worth missing some sleep to see these amazing views! Take a look at some pics of sunrises and sunsets throughout the trip:
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We hiked each day for a few hours. The first day’s hike was around the base of Uluru, the quintessential Australian postcard photo. It is the largest monolith in the world and it is amazing in person! Although we did spend quite a bit of time swatting the famous Australian flies out of our eyes, noses, and mouths. Check out the flies on this guy's back -- an average amount:
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The Aboriginal people ask that you not climb the rock as it is considered to be sacred, so we opted for the base walk – it is 9 kilometers around the entire rock!
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Some people ignored the whole sacred bit. They will now be cursed:

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The second day’s hike was through Kata Tjuta. We went on a walk there called the Valley of the Winds Walk. The name is appropriate in that the various red rock formations create lovely wind tunnels. Quite a few people on our tour thought this spot was the most beautiful of them all. To Marin’s delight, we also spotted a few Kangaroos along the way.
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The final day’s walk was around the rim of King’s Canyon. Nikki fell in love with this spot when we watched the sunrise over the canyon. It was spectacular! Ryan, our cute guide, pointed out various plants and trees used for homeopathic remedies by the Aboriginal people along the way. Marin continued to fumble with her camera and lag meters and meters behind the group.

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On the way back to Alice Springs we stopped at a Camel Farm to ride some camels. We chose not to ride them because we weren’t happy with the small pens in which they were living. However, it was neat to see them up close and Marin snapped some great pics-see:
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Other highlights of the trip were collecting firewood in the 110-degree, fly swarming heat (this was more of a lowlight), and making Nikki pose as the company’s logo:
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Exhausted and amazed by our time in the Outback, we headed back to the city for some more QT with Sarah and Sydney.

Up next: Sydney and all its splendor, Manly, and Coogee, Nikki’s study abroad paradise from 10 years ago.

Also, in real time, we are in Thailand right now and it is awesome! The goal is to get a few entries out in the next couple of days as we lie by the sea and sip rum punch, so that you all can see how amazing Thailand has been too! Xoxo Nikki and Marin

Posted by Marbert18 22:03 Archived in Australia Tagged desert uluru hiking outback olgas camel kangaroo kings_canyon ayer's_rock emu_run Comments (1)

Surf’s up, Dude!

Soaking up the rays on the Sunshine Coast

After camping on amazing Fraser Island for 3 days, we were ready for some creature comforts – you know, fancy stuff like hot showers and a bed. We got to Noosa after a 2 hr. drive South along the coast. It is rather difficult to arrive to a new destination in the dark (especially when the internal light in your Astra does not work- perhaps this was damage we had done as a result of driving through the flood waters in North Queensland). Marin, ever the industrious McGyver, has taken to handling this challenge by squatting outside the car and holding the miniscule Lonely Planet map in the headlights. But, she never quite got the hag of doing this in the pouring rain.

After literally driving around in circles (there are 114 roundabouts in Noosa!!) through the various neighborhoods - Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach, Noosaville- consulting the map in the headlights several times, asking 3 different people for directions and having 2 arguments, we finally landed at our Flashpacker accommodation.

For those of you who are not familiar with the ins and outs of the youth hostel circuit, Flashpacker accommodation is one step up from backpacker accommodation. It usually means you pay about $10 more, and for this tax, you’re guaranteed luxuries like clean sheets. If you are lucky, you might have a pool or a TV in your room. Our Noosa Digs did not disappoint: king sized bed, perfect private shower, flat screen tv, private little terrace off the room, pool, bbq). Perfect for a post-camping crash.

After a good night’s rest, we spent a wonderful day frolicking on the gorgeous beaches of Noosa. We went to the Main Beach, which was filled with surfers and sunbathers. Nikki sunbathed away (shocking!) while Marin rode the waves on a boogie board she loaned from the hostel. By Australian standards, Noosa is very posh – the place to “see and be seen” according to our guide book. We were amazed that even by these standards, we enjoyed a gorgeous day on a pristine beach – no payment to enter, park or do anything else. Free luxury. Gotta love Australia.
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After Main Beach we found a great beach bar and enjoyed some oysters and beers. It was nice to just sit and chill for a bit and catch our breath after all of the driving we had done.

We wandered over to Noosa Heads, one of the many Australian National Parks and took a lovely sunset stroll through the Eucalypt-covered coastline. On our walk we spotted some more surfers- they are everywhere in Noosa- and a Koala! The wildlife spotting made Marin really happy! We found a gorgeous spot to sit and take it all in. Take a look:

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After one more sleep, and some delicious steaks BBQ’d in the pouring rain, we hit the road and headed toward Byron Bay. We broke up the 4-hour drive with a stop at Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo.
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For those of you who are not loyal Steve Irwin fans, you may not be aware that the Crocodile Hunter tragically died in an accident involving a Sting Ray a few years back. Sadly, he left behind his wife and children. The Australia Zoo has become his legacy. The Zoo itself is quite commercial (picture Disney with lots of crocs) and some of the animals were definitely depressed (Nikki has some strong feelings of dislike toward caged animals) but we did learn some amazing things about Koalas and crocodiles. Did you know that a Koala is not actually a bear? And it has two thumbs. It turns out that the Koalas are endangered and protected in the zoo- this was a bit reassuring to us. And we even got to touch a Koala – it is so super soft. his is when Nikki decided that the Koala is her favorite of the Marsupials. Marin, however, is still loyal to the Kangas!
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We also went to a live Croc show where this crazy dude below put his life at risk for us, much to our enjoyment. Crocs use their tails to jump 6 feet in the air!
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And there were also these cool gigantic prehistoric tortoises:
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We arrived in Byron (in the dark of course, crossing back and forth through town, over railroad tracks and in search of a road on our map that did not exist in real life) to a lovely Bed & Breakfast. We were greeted at the door by Marty, our warm and wonderful host -- a theatrical Kiwi who’s travelled and lived all over the world. Some details about Marty to help you picture him: makes sweeping hand gestures when talking about the weather, walks around town and in the house with a bird on his shoulder, raises tree frogs on the porch, drinks soy milk, wears yoga pants and was so excited to tell us that our soap was some kind of organic almond mixture, not those “dreadful little bars”. This is all very normal for Byron – it’s the bourgeois hippie capital of OZ, not unlike Park Slope, except on the ocean. Nikki was psyched to return there after her visit 10 years ago to a 4-day jazz festival, when she came to “listen to music.”

Though we did not recreate Woodstock, we did have a wonderful time in Byron. Great bars, restaurants and live music to keep us jolly at night. Beautiful beaches for walks and swims, farmer’s markets, and dolphin and surfer sightings during the day. We went on one two mile run that turned into an 8 mile walk after we got lost, but we got a great tour of the Byron Cape – the easternmost point on the coast – as a result.
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What a great place to end our road trip! xoxo Marin & Nik

Posted by Marbert18 04:52 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches koala hiking crocodile noosa byron_bay australia_zoo tortoise flashpacker Comments (1)

Tongariro…THE Alpine Crossing

Welcome to the North Island

After our fantastic experience at Abel Tasman, we jumped in our Nissan and high-tailed it to Picton, the city from which we would depart on the ferry for the North Island the next morning. The “two hour” drive to Picton – with Marin’s “short”cut (insert Nikki’s angry driving grumbles here) over the scenic route (turns out one-lane winding roads with incredible views of a bay are not meant to be driven in the pitch blackness of night) – was um, less than thrilling. As were our gross-out digs in Picton when we finally arrived, alive. Luckily we were only there for about 8 hours, which we spent sleeping (after wine and Cup O’ Noodles in bed). We knew we were in trouble when we checked in and were directed to the “back cottage” – code for the place where they usually stash groups of teens, complete with a fly-infested kitchen…aka our very own private hellhole.

We rose the next morning, all ready to jump on the ferry from Picton (on the South Island) to Wellington (on the North Island). Prior to our embarking, Marin picked up an email from her mother, Sharon, who was en route home from Hawaii. Sharon wrote, “Wow, it’s a good thing we got out of Hawaii when we did, had we stayed another day we might have been stuck there.” Marin’s response (prior to checking cnn.com): “Why, was it raining or something?” Then Marin checks cnn.com and sees, for the first time, the devastating news about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Great day for a boat ride! Needless to say we were unenthused about jumping in dangerous waters – especially when the woman we sat next to on the ferry held up the newspaper and the headline read, in big, black, bold letters,“TSUNAMI WAVES REACH NEW ZEALAND!” Nikki spent the duration of the 3 hour ferry journey keeping up to date on the latest headlines via a spotty $7 wi-fi connection Turns out we made it to Wellington unscathed.

We’ve started to develop a bit of “seen one mountain, seen ‘em all” malaise. We’d heard the ferry ride was sooooo beautiful, but really, we were underwhelmed. Here’s a nice view coming into Wellington, though:

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After arriving in Wellington, we drove 4 hours north to Tongariro, a town known for its great hikes and great trout. We went there to conquer the 19 KM Tongariro Alpine Crossing, arguably the best day hike in all of New Zealand (and the universe, in our humble opinion). Oh, and conquer The Crossing we did! Boo-yeah!

The day started with a 7:30am shuttle bus pickup and drive to the start of the 7 ½ hour mammoth hike. We were weighed down a bit by our packs, filled with the day’s provisions- 2 PB&J sandwiches each, 6 liters of water, and a whole lot of trail mix. Although the signs detailing the length and hazards of the journey ahead were a bit intimidating, we sallied forth into the volcanic rock:

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The beginning portion of the hike was relatively mellow (and level), filled with purple wild flowers, gentle streams, and interesting volcanic rock formations. Here is Nikki (aka Maverick) posing in her 1980s aerobic gear- all she is missing to complete the outfit is the leg warmers (and yes she wore this garb for the duration of the trek- see pics below and notice the additional wool gloves later on- who said lesbians weren’t fashionable anyway?)

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Check out Marin below posing in front of Mt. Ngauruhoe. Notice she is smiling (ignorance is bliss). She is completely unaware that the trail ahead will lead her up and over this massive volcano via approximately 4 million steps and extremely steep, treacherous terrain. Just when we were about to give up and jump off the side of cliff, we met a 79 yr. old woman with a fear of heights (also wearing plaid wool pants, love it) who was hiking The Crossing with her daughter and granddaughter. Talk about a slice of humble pie. Take a look at some pics from the initial ascent (notice the lava imprints from previous eruptions...also those things that look like ants in the pictures are people, should give you an idea of the scale).

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The portion of the hike atop the volcano just before we hit the pinnacle of our climb involved two large craters, South Crater and Red Crater. The red volcanic rock was Marin’s favorite part of the hike. Take a look:

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It honestly felt like walking on the moon- completely uncharted territory ☺- too cool!!! Nikki became a bit distracted with the idea that due to the recent earthquakes in the Pacific region, this volcano might be due to erupt unexpectedly. It was this scene that prompted her worry:

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Scary- right? Oh wait, that “eruption” is just a cloud…ok, nevermind.

We came up and over the peak of the climb (it was an extremely steep descent and we were sinking into the volcanic ash- Nikki decided this was the safest way to make her way down…who needs hiking boots?):

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At this point, Nikki discovered not only her favorite part of the hike but her favorite part of our travels thus far, the Emerald Lakes. Nikki described these lakes and this moment as the most naturally beautiful thing she has ever seen!!! Take a look:

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Oh and we should mention that these hot springs high atop mo are surrounded by sulphuric, steaming, earth. It was an unbelievable sight to behold!
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We ate our first of two PB&J sammies at the Emerald Lakes and felt great to have reached the climax of the climb. Unfortunately, at 10k in, we had 9 more kilometers to go to complete our overland pilgrimage. The scenery on the way down was lovely (ocean views and gently rolling hills) the damage to our feet, hamstrings, and ankles was not so lovely☹! Not too many pictures of this as a Marin-meltdown followed us down the trail for the last two hours. Take a look at Nikki trying to alleviate some of the strain by stretching in yoga-like poses with Hanz and Franz:

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Completing the walk was exhilarating- check out our happy “after” victory pics:
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Thanks for reading this incredibly LONG addition to our Migration Blog. Come back next time for our thrilling cave adventures with stalactites, stalagmites, and glowworms ☺!!! xoxo Marin & Nikki

Posted by Marbert18 05:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hiking tongariro_alpine_crossing Comments (1)

Franz Josef Glacier (to be pronounced GLASS-i-er!)

Our hike on ice and our sunset on the beach...in the same day

Two pictures taken on the same day in NZ…furreal:

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Once again, on our drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier, we were privy to some pretty damn picturesque views. Translation: lots of stops for photo ops on the side of the road. What made this leg of the journey particularly special was the variety of landscape and rapidly changing environs we passed through – mountains, lakes, snow, rainforest, sheep farms.

Some of the awesome views from the car:

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We were psyched to arrive at Glow Worm Cottages, our hostel in Franz Josef – admittedly, our standards had been lowered tremendously by our Queenstown digs – and discover a quiet, clean and rather pleasant vibe. Ahhhh, relief: nothing so peaceful as spending the evening over a steaming Cup o’ Noodles while lovely Swedes complete a jigsaw puzzle and politely sip Ovaltine in the background. We were a bit confused as to the actual location of the glacier as tremendous clouds disguised it above. The next morning, as we packed the car prior to our arctic hike, Marin asked Nikki to bring our packs out to the car, and then turn around and look above the roof of Glow Worm. There it was! The ginormous Franz Josef Glacier slicing the sky in half behind her! Here’s the view of the glacier from the end of our driveway:

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We arrived at the Franz Josef Glacier Guides building promptly at 9:15 AM. After getting outfitted with waterproof pants and jackets, clunker boots, wool socks, caps and mittens and fashionable fanny packs in which to carry our crampons, we headed to the heli-pad. The ride up to our landing spot in the heli was…out of this world. We got to sit in the front seat right next to the pilot! He flew us around the mountain on a scenic tour so that we could get up close and personal with the mile-thick ice peaks and caves.

Some views of/from the chopper:

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Highlights from the glacier hike:

1. Putting on the crampons (the spikes that you attach to your boots to grip the ice):

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2. Posing for pictures in ice caves

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3. Discovering the difference between white ice (has air in it) and blue ice (is the most solid)

4. Viewing a waterfall through an ice tunnel (the glacier changes so much that this wasn’t visible as recently as 2 months ago…we knew this was a tremendous sighting when our guide took his own camera out for a shot )

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5. Drinking glacier water right off the ice (and the large man who came on this rather pricey trip specifically to fill up multiple liters of empty water bottles)

6. Our very cute carrot-topped guide named Dean
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Pretty amazing that this thing just exists out there in the world. And we were able to walk on it.

After warming up with a “Flat White” coffee– this has become our drink of choice, it’s like a Latte but with less milk and more coffee -- at Full of Beans, the FJ local coffee shop, we hit the road to head up the West Coast towards Punakaiki, a secluded beach town. What we found when we arrived was probably the best accommodation we have stayed in thus far – waterfront property and ocean views from our room for $70 NZD/night! We couldn’t get over being on a beautiful beach the same day we’d hiked across a glacier. The sound of the ocean lulled us to sleep and felt fantastic on our run in the morning.

But, note to selves: do NOT run barefoot on beach that is flooded with Antarctic sea waters and covered in volcanic pebbles, prior to the sun’s rising and warming of said beach, no matter how romantic and lovely you are determined this will be. You will end up with numbed feet and opt for your sneakers halfway through the run, when you're already all sandy.

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Some shots of our lovely hostel and beach:

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Before leaving the next day, we made sure to visit the big tourist attraction of the town, the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes (limestone boulders jutting out over the ocean that have been eroded by the waves and the weather into formations resembling giant stacks of pancakes). This is also where Nikki was nearly abducted by a strange man from East Florida – probably due to her donning the first tube top of the trip:

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Next episode: Sunny, sunny Nelson. Marin flies! And our trek through NZ’s most visited National Park, Abel Tasman. xoxo Marin & Nikki

Posted by Marbert18 01:57 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hiking new_zealand franz_josef_glacier punakaiki pancake_rocks Comments (1)

We Dominated the s&*t out of Te Anau!!!!

Extra-long entry about some extra-special adventuring

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Our time in Te Anau, a sleepy mountain town with million dollar views of the alp-like Kepler mountains, began with a lengthy and sheep-filled 4-hour drive from the Otago Peninsula. Upon our arrival at Barnyard Backpackers, a hostel comprised of old, converted, log cabin-esque farm houses, we realized we needed to head back out to the grocery store, ATM, and gas station to take care of some necessary details (only a short 9km drive down the road). Too bad it was already 8PM and Marin and I were both blurry-eyed, famished, and cranky from our trek across the South Island of NZ. Trying to negotiate different brands of generic muesli in this state is quite a feat. Our meal planning that evening went something like this:

Nikki: “Does this one look good to you?”
Pause – one-one-thousand….two-one-thousand…three-one-thousand…four-one-thousand…
Marin: “Yeah.” One-one-thousand…two-one-thousand… “What?”
And so on.

After procuring the necessary supplies we headed back to our remote hostel to prepare some food in the communal kitchen. When we first viewed the kitchen and communal living area we were pleased to see an older married couple (older than us!) completing a crossword puzzle over a bottle of wine at the rustic wooden table in front of a roaring fire. These appeared to be the only other humans around. . .part of the appeal for us (especially Marin). When we returned from the grocery store, with one thing on our minds- ingesting some well-deserved split pea canned soup- the kitchen area had been transformed into a zoo of hungry backpackers. It was as if a tour bus had just arrived and poured its contents into our humble mountainside lodge. I was actually nudged out of the way by a pushy German woman at the stove who was all too eager to fry up her onions and eggs at 10pm – oh, sorry, 22:00. Luckily we have lots of experience subtly “throwing elbows” when needed – don’t mess with NEW YORK!

All this said, here was the view from our cabin-room when we woke up the next morning (you can see how it makes it all worth it):

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When we excitedly told The German (once again we were sharing kitchen space) about the rainbow sunrise, she replied, “Just one? I’ve been here for a few days now, and I am accustomed to waking up to three or four rainbows each morning. Just yesterday, on my hike up to Key Summit, a one-thousand kilometer climb, I was able to view a double rainbow at the apex.” OK, German. Cook your eggs and leave us alone.

Not to be outdone, we headed straightaway for this so-called Key Summit. Key Summit, or “The Divide” as the locals call it, is known for having amazing views of the surrounding mountains – sort of the gateway to the whole Milford Sound area. Keep in mind, this 3.5 hour hike to 1,000 meters was only our warm-up activity – we had already booked a 5 hour sea kayaking adventure for the same afternoon.

Eeeneyways, the hike was amazing. Picture the most lush rainforest, the sheerest and steepest mountains, multiple waterfalls and desert-like tundra – all rolled into one short hike.

Here are a few pictures from our way up and on the summit:

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Unfortunately, we felt a bit defeated and jealous of The German when we arrived at the pinnacle of our climb. A passing front socked us in with clouds and fog. In other words, no view. In addition, extreme weather conditions had set in. We were assaulted by the elements: high winds, piercing rain, and close to freezing temperatures (who knows though because of this whole Farenheit/Celsius thing…). I’d like to mention at this point that Marin insisted upon remaining in her yellow Patagonia men’s swim trunks (hey, these were high fashion at prep school in 1996). She insisted she was fine as long as she “kept moving.” So we did.

On the way down, after resigning ourselves to the fact that the main benefits of this climb would be fitness rather than a Lord of the Rings skyline, we were startled by a couple a few meters ahead who were waving madly at the sky and yelling loudly. It happened! The clouds broke, the fog lifted, and the awesome mountains rose up before us. Nikki has described this as one of the most amazing moments of the trip thus far. Pictures don’t do it justice, but nonetheless, here’s what it looked like – we were awestruck and on top of the world:

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Post-hike, we continued our drive towards Milford Sound. We were feeling a bit tired, but very excited for our next activity: sea kayaking in reportedly the most beautiful place on earth (it has been described as the 8th Wonder of the World). The drive towards it was stunning. Little did we know the drive would be a Middle-Earth-esque venture unto itself. From the car and the side of the road, we experienced some of the most stunning views thus far on our trip. A popular line from Marin has become, “Pull over. Just one more pic. I promise, no more after this one.”

Here are some pics from the drive in:

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And now, the kayak. . .how should we begin to talk about the kayak? Well, let’s just say this, Marin sent an email to our immediate families following our kayaking excursion in which she explained that although we saw some beautiful views within breathtaking Milford Sound, she was grateful that our marriage survived! Marin has confessed that she pictured us paddling amongst the warm golden sunshine on a still day in crystal clear waters alongside peaks carved by glaciers. Perhaps a dolphin or two jumping over the bow of the boat if we were lucky.

The reality of the situation was a bit different. While we were strapped into our two-person yellow vessel, after almost capsizing due to high winds twice, she said and I quote, “I thought this would be more luxurious! Where is the wine and cheese anyway?” Tosh, our Kiwi tour guide, was full of information about the beautiful waterfalls that we were sailing by; however she left a bit to be desired in the area of customer service. Unfortunately, Nikki’s extremities, which notoriously have been known to have poor circulation, acted up and downright froze on Milford Sound. When Tosh asked how we were doing, I replied, “my hands are a bit cold.” This was an understatement as I had lost feeling in 8 out of 10 fingers and my hands had turned a lovely shade of light blue. Tosh laughed it off and said, “Oh such a pity that I didn’t set you up with a pair of pogies (water resistant gloves), we have loads on shore. I didn’t think it would be this windy out here.” I smiled at Tosh and shot Marin a look letting her know that a temper tantrum would shortly ensue.

I managed to avoid the temper tantrum (almost) and we saw some pretty amazing sights! Tosh highlighted one waterfall in particular that was 4x the size of Niagara Falls. It looked like nothing as apparently it is very difficult to comprehend the scale of naturally occurring beauty when you are accustomed to looking at skyscrapers. Also, everything in the sound is so enormous – these peaks shoot up one mile into the sky – that huge things like waterfalls and cruise ships look practically tiny. Here are a few shots that attempt to capture it all:

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So yeah, you may have noticed the whitecaps in the background of some of those shots. Tropical and peaceful kayaking this was not. As we attempted to cross Milford Sound without completely capsizing (a feat that should not be underestimated), Nikki’s hands and feet got colder and colder until pretty much all sensation was gone. Which left me, Marin, to paddle our heavy tandem kayak solo. There were sore shoulders, there were tears, and there was massive, massive relief when we finally reached the end of our aquatic journey.

We got back to our hostel after a three hour drive in the dark and the rain…and a massive “STAY AWAKE!!!” sing-along to the soundtrack of In The Heights. Ate oatmeal for dinner and drank beer in bed and had the best night’s sleep ever.

Up next…Queenstown and our stay at the Bungy Backpackers hostel, which made summer camp look like 4-star luxury. No bed bugs…yet.
Thanks for reading – xoxo Marin and Nikki

Posted by Marbert18 01:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hiking kayaking new_zealand milford_sound te_anau Comments (4)

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