Last February, I went on an epic New Zealand road trip adventure with my two good friends, Gabe and Andrew. We spent a full month making a big loop around the north and south islands squeezed tightly into our trusty Nissan Wingroad hatchback. We slept in Airbnb rentals on the beach, tents at roadside holiday parks, and in rustic New Zealand backcountry huts. We saw glaciers, rain forests, and a plethora of waterfalls and mountains. We ate numerous servings of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and drank too many liters of cider while still managing to trim down our figures from all the hiking we did. We bungee jumped, soaked in thermal pools, and plunged into and promptly scrambled out of ice-cold rivers and lakes.
There are too many stories to tell here, but the big highlight for me was hiking solo overnight the 45-kilometer Tongariro North Circuit, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and on the first day summiting Mount Ngauruhoe, the active volcano used in The Lord Of The Rings as Mount Doom. It was both a journey of physical endurance and self-reflection, and I walked away exhausted but incredibly invigorated in both mind and body. The highlight of highlights took place the morning of the second day. The night before, I made a futile attempt to sleep in the backcountry hut I was staying in. However, there were three or four hikers that persisted to saw logs all night long, so I decided to drag my sleeping pad outside under the stars to escape the snoring and get some shuteye. In the morning, I was awakened at dusk by sandflies biting my face, which got me up in a hurry. I decided to pour myself a bowl of granola, and with milk likely dripping from my beard my jaw dropped as the volcano’s caldera was set aglow, ominously colored blood red, by the sunrise.
I could go on and on, but perhaps the photos will speak for themselves. 🙂 — KC