I began my day with a short chat with my Airbnb host Dan while I made breakfast in his kitchen. Dan is a very interesting guy. He’s 34 but has already retired from the New Zealand military where he was a helicopter pilot. He and his wife used to live in Wellinton (the 2 largest city in New Zealand) but because of their passion for the outdoors they moved to Wanaka just last year. They are into just about every outdoor sport you can think of….my kind of people. 🙂
His wife is a doctor and he is currently working as a canyon guide and as of this week, an Airbnb host. I, along with the couple from England in the other room, were actually their first Airbnb guests. I thought that was pretty cool. They have a great home and Dan did a fantastic job as an Airbnb host. I have no doubt they will be very successful with this evidenced by the fact that they were already booked solid for the next 2 weeks (I stayed 2 nights and actually wanted to stay another).
After breakfast I loaded up and took off to hike to the Rob Roy glacier. My intention for the day was to hike both the Rob Roy glacier and Mt. Roy on the way back to Wanaka with the Rob Roy glacier first.
The trailhead for the glacier hike is about an hour outside of Wanaka. This I was aware of. What I was not aware of is that most of the drive (25km) is on what they call in New Zealand, an unsealed road (gravel). For the most part the road was good with a couple of bad spots and several fords (water crossings)….
|Shhh…don’t tell the rental company. 🙂
It was a beautiful drive and I stopped several times to take pictures….
After about an hour I reached the trailhead parking area, packed my backpack and headed out. The trail began with a water crossing over a suspension bridge (they like those in NZ)….
After the bridge the trail immediately went into thick woods and stayed that way pretty much for the next hour. It was a good trail. Steep in places but not for too long. I passed several people on my way up and about half way I passed a man wearing a TCU (Texas Christian University) shirt. I asked him where he was from and he said, originally Texas but we’ve lived in Pennsylvania for the past 21 years. I said, “oh yeah, where” and he said, “Audubon outside of Philadelphia”. I said, “No way, I live in West Chester” (for my non-PA friends Audubon is probably 15-20 miles from West Chester. they are both suburbs of Philly). About that time his wife and son caught up to us and he said, “he’s from West Chester”. Their story is that their son Wade has been traveling for the past year in Southern Asia and now Asia Pacific. He has been living/working in NZ for the past 6 months and they flew down to visit him. We talked for about 10 minutes (several of the people I had passed re-passed me 🙂 and Wade gave me some good suggestions for my North island trip. I didn’t get their first names but their last name is Million. So their son is Wade Million. I said, “Who knows, maybe someone following my blog knows you”….
We had a good conversation and told them maybe we’d talk some more at the top and took off to re-pass the people who had re-passed me. ha ha
After probably 10 more minutes I reached the lower glacier observation point. From there you could see the bottom of the glacier and a beautiful water fall. I didn’t know anything about the lower or upper observation points other than the fact that there was another observation point and I needed to see it. 🙂 So I took a couple of pictures and then hit the trail for the upper observation point.
After 10 minutes I came to place where a large rock slide had cleared the trees for 30 yards or so. On the right I saw some awesome mountain peaks directly above me and said (out loud), “Wow”! I grabbed my phone and started taking pictures. After a minute of standing there I noticed something to my left out of the corner of my eye and when I turned, strictly by spontaneous reaction, I said very loudly, “Oh My Gosh”! At that very moment, 3 girls came hiking out of the woods across the 30 yards or so and started laughing and I knew immediately they were laughing at me. It was very funny. I was so focused on the mountain peaks I saw to my right that I totally missed the magnificent waterfall and glacier on my left. I was totally blown away!
|Mtn peaks to my right
|Waterfall to my left
As the girls passed I told them what had happened and they said they did the same thing only their word was “Wow”! We agreed that it was definitely “Wow” and/or an “Oh My Gosh” worthy. 🙂 They said, “if you think that’s good just wait”. But I seriously could not imagine it getting better. At this point a girl who I had passed back and forth for the entire hike walked up and said, “Wow”!…seriously (for those who hike you know that it’s normal on long hikes to go back and forth around people who hike around your pace). Of course I laughed and told her what had just happened with the other 3 girls and we both laughed. I named this my “Oh My Gosh” spot and moved on up the trail.
After 7 more minutes or so I finally came to a clearing at the end, climbed some rocks and BAM…there it was…right in front of me…and I literally could not believe my eyes. What I was looking at was literally unbelievable. I climbed on a rock and started taking pictures and videos. I climbed to another rock and took some more and then another rock with more and then…. :-). I was totally in awe….
By this time the girl who had been hiking around me showed up and she had the same reaction I did…”WOW”. I told her about my blog and how I had started the one from Franz Josef glacier with “WOW”. We talked for a few minutes and I found out that she was from Barcolona, Spain and she had been traveling for about a year. Her name was Sofia and she was in NZ on a work visa. She had worked on the North island for 4 months and was now traveling the south island for 2 months before she has to go back to work. Working to save travel money, traveling until it runs out and then working again is very common with “long duration” travelers. We talked for a few minutes and then I climbed up to a large rock and set a “table” for lunch….
And after lunch, of course I was thirsty and needed a drink….but where could I possibly get some cold, clean, refreshing water….
So as mentioned in the beginning I was planning to do this hike and then do Mt. Roy on the way back. However, as I sat there eating my lunch I realized with every passing minute that was not going to happen. I literally could not make myself leave. The scene in front of me just drew me in. Sitting there watching 15 waterfalls with the wind blowing a couple of them back and worth and listening to all of that falling water was just <mesmerizing>, intoxicating, calming, soothing, etc., etc. and I just couldn’t get myself to leave…or even move for that matter. So you know what….I didn’t! 🙂
I sat there for a long while and then spent some time speaking with Sofia again. Wade joined us after a while and the 3 of us spoke for a while. As with many (most) of my conversations over the past 5 weeks we spoke about a lot of different things…from travel (of course), family, politics (everyone seems to know about US politics) and several other things. We spent the most time talking about something that is very dear to me and that I am a believe in very strongly….how one of the great things traveling and meeting people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds is that you learn that people are basically all the same (at our core) regardless of where they are from. We all basically have the same needs, desires, fears, etc. When you take the time to sit with someone from a different country/culture/background and show a <genuane> interest in them and really take the time to get to know them with an open mind you quickly find that you have so much in common…it’s really amazing (there’s my word and this time I’m using it to describe people). In case you haven’t caught on by now, traveling to me is not just about the places and the things. A HUGE part of it (for me) is the people that you meet and (if lucky) get an oppertunity to know on a small level. Seriously, just think about all of the people I have met on this trip (and written about). It’s not just happenstance. I mean sure, me running into someone from PA on a hike or a UNC fan on the top of a mountain (tomorrow), maybe that’s just happenstance. But it’s not just happenstance that I keep meeting all of these interesting people and having these great conversations because I’m open to it and seeking it out.
I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. Some people are in our lives for our entire lives…others may only be around us for a 10 minute conversation on a bus or a 2 hour conversation on a rock, but regardless of the length of time, I believe there is a purpose for them “touching” our lives. And I think there is something to be gleaned from each and every one of those encounters…however brief or long. I think our job is just to be open minded and available when I happens. Anyway, it was another great conversation in another amazing location.
We talked for a while and I decided to hike a little further and get some more pictures/videos of the upper falls. After that it was my intention to leave but as I started down the trail I saw another rock that was just calling my name and I had to sit for a while longer. When I finally managed to pull myself away I realized that it had been over 3 hours since I arrived at this place….it seriously seemed like 15 minutes.
Sofia had been sitting further up the trail and we had told each other good bye earlier but as she was walking down the trail to leave she saw me and asked if I wanted her to take some pictures of me so I said sure….
After that we both hiked out and chatted a little more on the way. When we got back to the parking area we told each other how much we had enjoyed the conversation and said our good byes. She had a camper van and was planning to stay there for the night (I was sooo jealous as that would have been a spectacular place to stay) and I started the 1 hour drive back to Wanaka.
I drove to my place, washed and changed quickly and headed back into town for some dinner. I decided on a Mexican restaurant and ordered casadias. When they arrived I asked if they had any hot sauce. The manager came out carrying 5 different bottles (yeah baby…this is my kind of place). Two were the in-house sauces and the other 3 were purchased at varying levels of heat. He said, “we have one more if these are not hot enough for you. we keep it around just in case but I hesitate to give it to anyone because it comes with a warning label and can do serious damage”. Of course I said, “Bring it on”….just kidding. 🙂 I ended up mixing 3 of the ones he had brought and my dinner was delicious! Oh, and my waiter was from Texas. ha ha
After that I went home and stayed up until 2 (again) writing my blog. 🙂 Speaking of which, good night all.
|Where Am I