The Great Outdoors of New Zealand

Emily Wilcox is a student at University of New Hampsire. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Before coming to New Zealand, I had always been an outdoorsy person and loved to hike. However, I had never actually been on a multi-day hike before, which was one goal I wanted to achieve while abroad. After getting settled in, a couple of my friends and I set route for Fiordland National Park for a weekend trip. Our plan was to hike one of New Zealand’s “9 Great Walks” called the Routeburn Track.

This specific track wasn’t one that eventually looped around to where you started, meaning that we had to have a car waiting at the other side. What we decided to do was have another group of our friends start at one end of the track while we started at the other end. The plan was to meet half way at the campsite we were staying at and exchange car keys to drive home.

One of the cool things about this track was that there were a bunch of different sights and environments making it a constant adventure. For example, there was the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen, a field scattered with giant boulders, and a densely vegetated forest! Towards the end of the hike, there was a section that was mostly downhill and for the last stretch, my friends and I decided to run. Not only did I get to experience sights I’d never seen before, but I also got a good amount of exercise along the way!

The second multi-day hike I went on was a few weeks ago, which is leaning towards the end of fall. A couple of my friends and I ended up going to Mount Aspiring National Park to hike the French Ridge Track. To the start the track, you have to drive through mini streams and rivers that would change in elevation depending on how much rain there was recently. However, the couple days leading up to our hike there were some rainfall events meaning our car would have a difficult time making it through the water. What we decided we had to do was walk an extra hour just to get to the start of the track. Luckily, we got a ride on the back of truck that was pulling a tractor and was officially the first time I have ever hitchhiked!

I did not know much about this track besides my friends telling me that most of it was uphill. When we began the hike, we all shortly realized that “uphill” meant intense rock climbing. To emphasize this, we spent three and a half hours climbing only 3 km. When we started to approach the summit, more and more snow appeared. This was an interesting experience because we were sweating and wearing T-shirts, but there was snow on the ground. Overall, this was the longest span of hiking that any of us did in one day because we left our hut at 7 a.m. and returned to our car at 7:30 p.m.


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