We came to New Zealand, the adventure capital of the world, and didn’t do any of the extreme adventures it’s known for.
When many people think of this small country, they think adrenaline: skydiving, canyon swinging, bungee jumping, and zorbing. There’s no doubt there are lots of opportunities to do those things, but I don’t have a desire to. A traumatic experience when I was young left me equating the rollercoaster flip in my stomach with fear, so I do my best to avoid it.
But that isn’t to say I didn’t push my limits, or get my adrenaline pumping during our time in New Zealand.
We are nearly done with our 45 day tour in Lucy and there are many things that I can look back on and be proud of. One of our goals in taking this trip was to push our limits and grow, and I can think of a handful of ways that has already started.
Wrong Side of the Car, Wrong Side of the Road
Now, I know this isn’t huge, but it is an adjustment to climb into the opposite side of the car and ride on the opposite side of the road. Even more so when those roads are often filled with switchbacks and logging trucks that don’t like to stay on their own side.
We haven’t ever climbed a legit snow-covered mountain before, but it was on our list of must-dos here in New Zealand, so we signed up for a guided hike through the Tongariro Alipine Crossing. Twenty-one kilometers and lots of tears later I never wanted to do it again. But, I learned how to use an ice axe, crampons, and gaiters. I also learned about my resilience and my husband’s cheerleading, so it wasn’t all bad.
This was one of my favorite days in New Zealand. We went to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves to see first-hand what the hype was about, and it was incredible. There were hundreds of thousands of these glowing things sparkling on the ceiling of the cave we were in. It looked like a starry sky, only we were in a cave. We learned about why they glow, how they eat, and why they live where they do. When that tour finished, we grabbed our swimsuits and towels to start the second part of our caving adventure: black-water rafting.
We spent more than three hours 200+ feet underground jumping off waterfalls, doing squeezes (crawling through tiny tunnels), and navigating the cave using glow worms as we floated down the pitch-black underground rivers in tubes.
It was incredible but I almost didn’t do it. When I first read about it, I was so excited, but then we climbed Tongariro, and I was afraid I would get scared again.
A few days after we got to the South Island, we were all geared up to try another hike. This one started at the Flora Car Park in the Kahurangi National Park and we planned to walk to the Mount Arthur Hut. I am not sure what happened, but I had a full-on panic attack on this hike. I think what started it was the ridiculous seven kilometer road that we had to take to get to the car park. The “road” was barely wide enough for one car and the incline was so steep that I wasn’t sure that Lucy would make it. Adding to the stress was the fact that the road was gravel, parts of it were washing out, and there was no guardrail. By this point on our trip I had already experienced many scary roads, but even Ben was white-knuckled while driving it.
When we got to the car park, I was already feeling panicked. Then, we went into the hut to get some more information on the route and I saw a sign in book. Everyone was required to sign the book just in case anything happened to them. Now, I realize this doesn’t mean something is going to happen, and it is a great form of insurance incase you do have an emergency, but at the time it just added to my fears.
I also still didn’t (and don’t) feel super confident with just the two of us hiking. Our longer hikes up until this one have always been filled with others who could help us if there was a problem. Here, there was no one else around. Even though we packed our layers, first-aid kit, water, food, etc., I still didn’t feel like we had everything we needed.
As we started hiking I was beginning to feel better, but I wouldn’t describe myself as calm. Then, as we got further and further up the mountain and snow started to cover the trail, I went into panic mode. Never in my life have I been as scared as I was. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t stop crying. I was terrified. And honestly, looking back on it, there wasn’t a reason to be. Needless to say, we didn’t make it all the way, and instead turned around so I could calm down.
Not too many days after my failed attempt at the Mount Arthur Hut hike, we did some research on the glaciers. I mentioned it here, but we opted for a glacier experience that was a little less demanding, because we weren’t sure how I would react. Turns out, I loved it, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Mountaineering Again, Again
Since I got my feet wet, literally and figuratively, on the glacier hike, I wanted to try another hike to see if it is a true fear of mine, or if the Mount Arthur Hut day was just a fluke. When we were in Wanaka, we thought the views at Roys Peak would be worthy of a try, so we set out again. As you know, it was the hardest hike we’ve ever done with eight kilometers of incline before turning around and descending the same route. The views were incredible and I didn’t panic. Even better, I made it to the top and got some awesome photos to share!
It has been many years since I have written things for the public to read. I am admittedly rusty, but writing for me has always been an outlet, and I am so happy to have the ability to do it again. I am excited to continue to grow and get back into a writing routine.
While writing is obviously a large part of blogging, there is actually a lot of work that goes on besides writing content. Ben and I are figuring out photo editing, SEO, web development, coding, etc., to keep our website running. All these things are new to us so we are learning, and stretching, as we go.
Leaving Everything Stable for a Camper Van
While this doesn’t only fit into our time in New Zealand, it could be the one that has caused us to stretch the most. We sold most of our things, quit our jobs, and landed on the other side of the world with no plans. Each morning we wake up unsure of where we will sleep that night. It still doesn’t feel real, but it has been stretching us daily for the last six weeks.
I can tell you from experience that it isn’t easy to leave your comfort zone, just refer to Mountaineering Again above. Yet, there hasn’t been a time in my life where I have slept better or been more proud of my perseverance. For the first time in a long time, I am doing things for me, and the difficulty is only topped by the rewards.