Travel is my sanity

After five weeks of level-four lockdown, followed by seven weeks of level-three, I was asked to write an article for our newsletter. To be honest, I couldn’t summon enough positive energy to write something encouraging or cheerful. Nor could I pretend to know more than anyone else on how to cope with the current situation. Thus, I decided to reminisce on several of my most cheerful memories, which brought me to one of my travel blogs.

During the 2020 Christmas holidays and taking advantage of no tourists, I set off on my first campervan trip. The plan was to explore South Island’s best day hiking tracks with the convenience of a campervan. It turned out to be one of the best trips I had ever experienced. In nine days, I managed to hike across five amazing tracks through Mt Cook, Wanaka, and Queenstown.

Hooker Valley Track

Located at the Mt Cook National Park, I was awed by the beauty of this short but sweet trail. I had been there before but only this time round, did I fully appreciated how wonderful it really is.

The track wound up to a glacier lake through a tussock covered valley. The valley was shouldered by the finest glacier covered peaks in New Zealand, with three-to-four swing bridges that crossed over running streams, adding to the excitement of my walk! From every angle, it was picture perfect. The great thing about this track is that the ground level is flat, so it’s particularly suitable for people of various fitness levels.

Mueller Hut Route

It was Christmas night at Mt Cook National Park, and I was lucky enough to have secured a park at the White Horse Hill Campground and a little bed at Mueller Hut. The route could be walked up and down in one day but staying a night at Mueller hut was definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

The hut had been rebuilt several times and the latest version was quite attractive. The sun setting behind the Mt Cook peaks was a highlight, as well as the panoramic view of the Hooker Valley route – absolutely stunning! I was also touched by the warm heart of one of the in-house wardens. I wasn’t prepared for an overnight stay in an alpine hut, since my trip there wasn’t exactly planned, but after hearing my story, the warden lent me plenty of quality warm gear, a heavy-duty sleeping bag and a pair of crocs!

Roys Peak Track

Roys Peak at Wanaka is an internet sensation that does not need my elaboration. To me, it was a check-in to see whether it lived up to its fame. And man, no joke, it is an incredibly beautiful track! Alongside everyone else, I lined up for about ten minutes (a very short wait time, due to the lack of international travellers) and got to take a photo at the famous spot that sits just two-thirds of the way along the height of the full track.

Of course I had to hike right to the top, where I enjoyed afternoon tea and soaked up the view as much a possible –not your regular afternoon tea – this one was for the books!

Moke Lake Loop Track

This Queenstown Lake track was just a two-hour walk, but the campground was such a delightful place to stay. The sun rising from, and setting deep into the surrounding mountains. The tranquil lake and birds were perfect companions. And again, thanks to Covid, there was plenty of space to myself, and no tedious toilet lines!

Ben Lomond Track

The famous Queenstown gondola sat at one fifth of the height of the Mt Ben Lomond. Hiking up four-fifths more and you would reach the top. The 360-degree view from the top, looking down at the lake and mountain peaks was unbeatable. This was a long hike, so if you’re considering it yourself, make sure to bring enough water.

Even though I’m stuck inside, only reminiscing on my wonderful travel memories, it has brought me gratitude towards my experiences and the freedom that once was. I will never take these adventures for granted again.

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