We have taken our exams and are officially done with our semester at the University of Otago- now it’s time to travel! Although I am excited to travel, I am also sad that our time at Otago has ended and our time abroad is drawing to a close. Studying at Otago has been a great experience. While at the University of Otago I have learned a lot. Through my academic studies I have gained new educational and cultural perspectives that will be extremely beneficial to me as I start my career as a teacher. By studying in a different country I not only have been able to be independent, try new things, and visit amazing places, I have also learned more about myself and where I come from, and I have expanded my beliefs, perceptions, thinking and worldview. For all of this that this study abroad experience has brought me I am truly thankful.
We have just returned from completing two more of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”- the Kepler and the Routeburn Tracks. We backpacked and camped while completing these two amazing hikes. The Kepler was a 38 mile hike that we did in four days. The best part of this hike was the alpine section when we were above the trees so we were able to see out to the mountains and down to the lakes below. As we started the hike early the next morning we were above the clouds and it was truly an experience that makes you realize how beautiful and perfect the natural world is.
The second hike we did was the Routeburn track which was a 20 mile hike that we completed in three days. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as good of weather for this one so the day we were hiking above the treeline it was raining, snowing, and the track turned into a small stream. As the weather cleared and we began our descent we walked past a beautiful mountain lake and entered into a mountain valley with many waterfalls.
Another hike we did before doing the Kepler and Routeburn was the Copland Track. This was an amazing 7 hour hike that went through a mountain valley with a gorgeous turquoise blue river running through it. The trail followed the river deep into the valley, it weaved through tropical forests, past many small streams, and many swing bridges over the rivers. At the end of the trail was a back-country hut and natural hot pools that we were able to soak in and enjoy all to ourselves. It was one of our favorite hikes we have done in New Zealand!
This upcoming weekend we are going kayaking in doubtful sound with a trip run by the University’s recreation department. Once we get home from that we leave to go to Australia for two weeks and the North Island for one week! I can’t wait for all of the travel adventures in store for us this next month!