Four weeks of countless hours spent on my documentary and I can’t believe it’s already time to say goodbye to these cute little Yellow-Eyed Penguins. It was such an amazing experience to be able to have such an exclusive access to their rare life and also to meet people generous enough to have helped make this possible. The hardest part about leaving was the new friends that I made along the way. Whether it was from work or from other adventures while exploring New Zealand, they will truly be close to my heart because they opened up a new world full of experiences that I don’t think would have ever happened. After saying some hard goodbyes it was time to travel New Zealand for the next week and have some fun exploring the country.
First stop was to Moeraki Boulders. This place is known for having mysteriously large spherical stones scattered around Koekohe Beach. Each one weighs several tons and were formed at least 65 million years ago. Before I got there, I had the mind set that there were going to be hundreds of the boulders all over the beach. As I started walking towards the beach, I didn’t see much. When I got there, there was only a small section of these boulders around, but I couldn’t complain. The kid inside me climbed on top of them, jumped from rock to rock, and even fit my entire body inside one of them. It was still cool to see these natural phenomena in person.
Second stop was Wanaka. I’ve been told by quite a few people in New Zealand to visit this place. As I did research to see what there was to do, I didn’t realize that I would find my dream hike here, Roys Peak. So I planned to have an entire day to do this hike. It was late at night when I arrived at the hostel that I was staying at in Wanaka. I checked in and was getting myself situated in an all female six bed room. There was no one in the room, but obviously there were people staying there judging by the bags laying on the floor. I came across a Nikon camera sitting on a shelf. I thought it was weird that someone left the camera for everyone to see. Someone could easily steal it, not that I was thinking about it. Then I heard someone at the door. As I helped open the door, I was shocked to see who it was. My friends, Caroline, Tash, and Joyce were the other girls that were sleeping in the same room as me! I thought they were on the North Island. We were so excited to see each other. I mean, what a coincidence this was. I asked them what they were up to the next day and they all answered that they were going to hike Roys Peak. “Roys Peak!, You're joking!” I said. I was doing the same thing. How crazy is that? So we ended up going together to hike Roys Peak. Roys Peak wasn’t an easy hike. It was a 5,000 foot elevation gain and a very steep uphill climb. It wasn’t the hardest hike I’ve done, but was a serious workout. Once we got to the top, we were speechless. No photograph could convey how absolutely stunning the view was from the top of Roys Peak. To take in the true rawness of this place, you would have to see it with your own eyes. It was the best view I have ever seen while hiking. It was completely worth it. I fell in love with this town and I didn’t want to leave here. This was by far my favorite place in New Zealand.
Next stop, I was off to Fox Glacier. When do you ever see a glacier in person? This is what I said to Caroline, Tash, and Joyce and was able to convince them to come along and have some girl fun. The drive was three and a half hours of beautiful scenic views with dramatic high mountains that had powder snow drizzled on top. There were blue lakes, flowing rivers, and many waterfalls. But what was weird was the contrast between the snowy mountains and dense, impenetrable, green rain forest. Every turn is a different landscape. Upon arrival to the glacier, you are taken up a road between two high mountains covered with forest trees. Every so often you would drive past signs with the year showing where the glacier use to be at that point in time. Trust me when I say that there was a jaw dropping difference between where Fox Glacier used to be and where it is now because of its receding. Even though it has receded so much, it’s still a large glacier. You can even here the echoing of the ice breaking off of it. Certainly, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, no pun intended.
The last scenic stop before heading back to Wellington to fly home was Pancake Rocks. It felt like I was in another country, possibly Hawaii. It’s very green and tropical. The crashing waves and vertical shaft blowholes created 30 million year old layered rock formations called Pancake Rocks, because they look like pancakes stacked one on top of the other. To be honest I was seriously craving pancakes while I was here. It turned out that the local cafe served them for 20 New Zealand dollars. After seeing that, I lost my craving. So instead I just enjoyed the view and said my farewells to this incredible country that I hope to see again.