It's finally happening – I'm going to New Zealand.
New Zealand, a Lord of the Rings fanboy-filled land of just 4.4 million, has long occupied a spot on my “Places I Must Go” list alongside Iceland, Alaska, and Patagonia (Nepal was on there too but fortunately I managed to make it over).
And although the Te Araroa Trail (a 1,850 mi / 2,977 km trail that crosses the entirety of New Zealand) is on the bucket list, now's not the time to conquer it (thinking a September 2018 start date for that – should it come to fruition).
This time around, I will only be in New Zealand for a few weeks on my way back to Australia. However, I already have a few things in mind for the adventure in store.
What am I most excited about?
Well besides conquering Middle Earth, I already have plans to hike the Routeburn Track – one of New Zealand's Great Walks – on the country's South Island just outside of Queenstown (apparently the “adventure capital of the world”).
This one-way, 20 mi / 32 km track runs through the Southern Alps past alpine lakes, waterfalls, mountain ranges, and Uruk-hai breeding grounds as it crosses both Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park.
I've been scoping out a few other Great Walks including the Whanganui Journey (which is a multi-day canoe trip down a river, not a hike) and the Tongariro Northern Circuit (aka Mordor), but I don't know if I will have the time or the funds to conquer everything I would like to this time around. Also on the to-do list is bungy jumping, hitchhiking, and probably some disc golf.
I've also got a ten-hour layover in Auckland. So…yay?
New Zealand has been talked up a lot by everyone I've talked to who's been there, and I am fully expecting it to live up to the hype.
Rumor is that the South Island is where it's at in terms of mountains and trekking. I will go and investigate this claim (results to follow).
If you've got any suggestions for what to do, see, or explore down in Middle Earth, I'm all ears. Leave a comment below and help me discover what may soon be one of my new favorite countries.