Today I Climbed A Mountain

This past weekend I ventured to Hanmer Springs on the South Island of New Zealand. After being in Christchurch for most of my stay, the landscape was certainly different. The air wasn’t so dry and it was humid. It was also not nearly as much flat land and seemed greener. There were more big trees and forests and the town was very small, just 1 main street that seemed to go from one end of the town to the other. But I loved it.

Hammer is known for their sulfur hot springs which they’ve turned into a little water park with a few slides, a lazy river and lots of other pools to sit in and there is plenty to do there as well such as paintball, bungee jump, go jet boating or wine tasting but I was there to do some hiking. Since being in New Zealand I haven’t really had the opportunity to go on a good hike. So my first day there I did the short hike up Conical Hill. It was only about an hour total and was a nice easy to walk path that was somewhat steep at points but not too bad. To get there we literally only had to walk down the main road and that basically ended at the base of the trail. Up top there’s a nice lookout with 360 degree views of the surrounding town and land.

The next day I was determined to do some real hiking. My group had decided to do the “Waterfall Track” which was one of the hikes out of Hanmer Forest Park, which was  accessible by hiking trails right out of town. There are tons of trail in there and many people out and about walking or hiking. It took us about an hour to get to the base of the “Waterfall Trek” where it said on the sign it was about a 2.5 hour hike.

That hike was also supposed to be moderate and I would say that is a bit misleading. This hike ended up being about 10 miles (16.1 Km) and it was very, very uphill. In fact, it seemed like every time we reached the top of a hill and turned the corner there was another steeper, rockier hill waiting for us. But we marched on. I was hot and sweatier than I think I’ve ever been in my life. We had to walk across the stream at some points and near the end there were lots of staircases to go up, which was honestly my least favorite part but eventually after about an hour of what felt like straight uphill climbing (there were 3 downhill total; I counted so I’d know how many uphills on the way down) we finally found the waterfall.

And it was worth it. It was so tall and looked nothing like I imagined it would. It was very skinny and instead of rock it flowed down a wall of moss so it was completely surrounded by green. At it’s base was a little pool, about ankle deep with some of the coldest water I’ve ever felt in my life.

Since my skin was just about boiling with sweat by the time we finally got there I was more than happy to kick off my shoes and shirt and march right under it and it felt so great. It was bone chillingly cold but after all that it was just what I needed. People in our group even filled their water bottles since it’s glacier water and supposed to be very clean (not me I don’t trust that).

The walk down was much more pleasant that the hike up. There were tricky spots that had involved a bit of climbing on the way up, so they required some careful stepping on the way down. People slipped a few times but I must say those staircases and I were besties on the way down. We reached the bottom relatively quick and then strolled back through the woodland paths into town for some much needed food and dry clothing.

It was quite an adventure and I moaned the whole way up but in the end, standing under a waterfall in New Zealand, I must say it was definitely worth it.

“Keep breathing. That’s the key” – Gimli, Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

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