I spent the spring semester of 2010 studying in New Zealand through the ISEP program. I used this blog to keep an account of my school experience and as a record of the adventures I found. Hopefully it can serve two purposes: to have kept my friends and family informed of my travels and experiences; as well as to serve as a reminder of how important the study abroad experience is, whether it's in New Zealand or not.
18 March 2010
Wanderers In The Riddermark
Alright, so it wasn't quite Rohan, but it was where they filmed the River Anduin and right next to The Black Gates of Mordor. And it may as well have been Rohan, looked about like it. This was a MUAC trip (Massey University Alpine Club), which made me really miss OPRA. There's a $50 membership fee to join this club, unlike the $10 refundable deposit for OPRA. And the trips aren't as well organized. We planned to meet at the main bus stop at 5:00, but our leader didn't show up until about 5:30. At which point he asked if we had all eaten, no you told us we would on the way up, and if we had hut passes, no you didn't tell us to get them and we don't know where to get them anyway. So after a couple of stops, we reached the "What, what's" as our Kiwi driver told us. Just after entering the park we realized the car wouldn't make it up the road, so the other car had to come back and pick us up. We finally started hiking in the dark with a very, very slight drizzle, one might call it a "misting." Since it was all uphill, this was actually quite nice. However, the total darkness means there are no pictures and we also had no idea what was around us. We just kept going and going until 11:30PM when we reached the hut. We woke the next morning to high speed winds and a decision. Three people decided they didn't want to go on and decided to head back tho their car and go home. Five of us thought, what the hell we'll brave it. So we bent over and pushed through the wind. There's not too much to say about the hiking, the pictures will have to do that for me. It was pretty hard. Fairly vertical, so the ups and downs were hard in different ways. We had to go across the lower ridges so the upper ones, or original tramp route, could block the wind. We had to link arms to keep from falling over half the time. We stopped for lunch at the river before deciding on our next course of action. We spent the next 45 minutes traveling up the river, me with my shoes off and everyone else just planning to have wet shoes. We reached Daphnie Hut around 2:00 and took a break before making our final ascent to Howellet's Hut for the night. We spend the evening pretending to do homework, well not quite all of us, two people do. I knew I wouldn't do work, but I brought a book. Mostly we just end up talking, then playing hearts for a while. We finally get around to cooking dinner, which is powdered potatoes, freeze dried peas and carrots, and sausage, which we mix together, heat, and add water. It's actually not that bad. We share the cabin with three hunters, their dog they keep outside, and a mother with her daughter and their dog that stays in the hut with us. Overall a pleasant night and the fire helps to keep us warm. I'm up at 6:00 to see the sunrise, may I point out here New Zealand is the first country to see the sun rise on a new day. I even got a picture of it so you can all see the very start of Sunday 14 March, 2010. The rest of the day is spent hiking. The wind has died down so we get to go along the ridges and now is when I really start feeling like I'm in Rohan. The first downhill is soggy and filled with holes. We have to watch our step quite carefully. But it's a welcome relief for a little while after all the uphill. We break for lunch in a little dip at the top of a mountain to keep out of the wind. From the top we can see Mt. Ruapehu in the distance.The next few hours are more or less flat, I guess actually less depending on how tired you were at that point. But it's all worth while. There's one downhill when we all keep falling down, what with the holes and the water. We all get laughing because there's just no way to avoid it and our shoes are covered in mud and totally soaked. We go up for a bit, passing along part of the same route we did the day before and quite near the first hut we stayed in. The final downhill is long and hot, but covered by trees, so we don't get too overheated. We make it back to the car and head home to campus. All in all, quite a pleasant trip. Thursday we get together for dinner and photo sharing. We cook up some rice with sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, garlic, onions, and curry sauce. Along with a pleasant summer ale and follow it with some hot cross buns. We all take a long look at all of Arved's photos from the places he's seen in the last three years of living here. He's from Germany and studying river ecology and conservation. People on the trip: Me of course, Arved (the tall German with the teal windbreaker), Anna (the only other girl, from Vermont), John (our Kiwi leader in leg gators), and Joey (a small American boy from Colorado with a gray sweatshirt). I'll let the pictures tell the rest.