Lake Wakatipu from the Queenstown Gardens

Lake Wakatipu from the Queenstown Gardens

Brian Merewitz is a senior Natural Resources Management major and is currently studying abroad in New Zealand.

[Originally posted August 18, 2013]

Aotearoa (goodluck pronouncing it) is the Maori name for New Zealand translating to “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” How does that relate to this blog? It doesn’t, but I thought a foreign language would get your attention. Well, I guess there were long white clouds in the blue skies, but they were great (except for picture taking).

Anyway, first of all, I jumped! 134m (440ft) off a perfectly good ledge for no reason other than because I wanted to (and paid tons of money to)! It was incredible! Such a rush as you free-fall for 8 seconds head first to the ground! It really was so much fun and totally worth it, plus I got a free t-shirt for doing it! Oh, and it’s the highest bungy jump in Australasia and owned by the guy who invented bungy jumping.

We also stopped at a few wineries on the way, as we were in the heart of Pinot Noir country with heaps of vineyards everywhere–plus they have free tastings of actually good wines!

However, Queenstown is an awesome little town! Very touristy, but sits on a beautiful lake, with tons of shops, food, a garden, ski resorts, bars, and is the “Adventure Capital of the South.” Oh, it’s expensive too… But, they have a place called Fergburger, known for massive, delicious burgers. I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to know I devoured it with no problems.

Then, Saturday night (after bungy and Fergburger), we drove the “Gateway to Paradise” to the start of the Routeburn Track. What an amazing drive along the shore of Lake Wakatipu (pronounced just how it’s spelled)! Bright blue water with huge peaks behind it! We hit a traffic jam though – sheep were being herded across the road…

Then, we went to go hike the Routeburn Track–one of Lonely Planet’s top hikes in the world! I see why. First of all, you hike along the river with the clearest, turquoise water imaginable. We stayed at a hut next to some falls and the night skies are incredible here but I can’t get them in a picture, so you have to believe me! We got up at 5:45am and walked up to the Harris Saddle at 1277m to watch the sunrise. There is also a lake up there and it may have been the most beautiful place I’d ever been!

The colors are so vivid here! The water is so blue, the grass/forests are so green, the mountains are so picturesque and gray with some snow! This experience has been so incredible so far! I know every blog says “this was the coolest place ever” but I think this one may have actually been, but around every corner here there’s new mountains, rivers, lakes, etc that are all so amazing! The land down under the “Down Under” has been absolutely amazing, but I can’t wait to see what Australia’s get in store next week!!

Lake Harris on the saddle  just after sunrise!

Lake Harris on the saddle just after sunrise!