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Lady on a Tramp

Queenstown, New Zealand

I've just had the best shower in the entire world, because it's the first I've had in four long, sweaty days after finishing the Routeburn Track in fjordland, south New Zealand. For my first solo backpacking trip--without the guidance of a responsible adult male--I'd say it went fairly well. I was certainly glad of every piece of gear I brought with me (specifically the wet-weather variety) because it was a wild trip.

Day one was brilliant. Awesome weather, stunning views:

Each night, we stayed in backcountry huts. NZ, hospitable country that it is, has an extensive hut system for trampers (as we're called). Huts may be a bit of a misnomer. It brings to mind shoddy structures hastily thrown together made of twigs and dried grass. A more apt term would be basic cabin, which admittedly does not have the same ring as Backcountry Hut, though it does contain the marketing advantage of double alliteration. About the huts, though. I stayed in a different hut each of the three nights on the tramp, and they vaired in capacity but all had the same basic functions (drinking water, gas for cooking, wood stove, bunks). I can't describe how nice it was not to have to set up a tent at the end of 11km of hiking. It certainly does a lot for the morale to know that you've got a roof waiting for you at the end of the section.

Day two rained steadily all day long, but I did manage to capture some breathtaking views of the Harris Saddle and Lake Mackenzie thanks to the waterproof camera bag that Michelle and Hannah gave me as a leaving-Asia present. (Faithful readers will remember M&H as my best Korea friends.)
My rain jacket, which I used with great success all throughout the Korean monsoon season, proved to be somewhat less effective than I had hoped, but all turned out well in the end once we got a fire going to dry everything out.

Day three was clear and cold. There's no escaping the onset of winter here in Fjordland Nat'l Park, as it got down to a frigid -12C last night (about 4 degrees F). I have developed something close to an addiction to Raro, the Kiwi answer to Tang, on this trip. Since I couldn't very well have my beloved Chai latter, it's tough to beat a cup of hot Raro in tough alpine weather! This was a relatively easy day, mostly flat, but with a spectacular ending.

Day four took me out of the track, where I caught a bus to Milford Sound, at the advice of my grandpa. Unfortunately, it was another dreary day on the coast, so the experience was

a little less magical for me than for him, perhaps. Still worth it though. This particular cruise that I went on evidently catered to Asians, because our buffet lunch definitely required fine chopsticks skills, which of course I have now. Thanks Korea! It was the first time I've used them since leaving six weeks ago. Then I went into the bathroom, and found an empty bottle of soju in there. (This, faithful readers will also recall, is the cheap-as-chips alcohol of choice in Korea. Sort of like if vodka met sake down a dark dark alley...Ah, memories.) I bet the bottle's owner was much warmer than me.

And last, some glacial fun that I didn't get to put up here because I kept forgetting while in Franz! So I've got just about two weeks left until I come back to the good old U.S. of A. Some times I feel better about that than other times. I'll be happy to see the faces, and I think I've gotten over the worst of the culture shock of being back in the western world by now. As it evident from the many references above, I still miss Korea quite frequently, and I suppose I always will. It's hard to imagine myself "home" right now. But I can't wait to see the faces of home, and my bank account can't wait to have a rest, either. Until next time!

permalink written by  alli_ockinga on March 18, 2010 from Queenstown, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand!
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Hey everyone! In February 2009 I left the Pac Northwest for South Korea to teach English for a year. This is what I'm up to! Keep in touch!

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