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South Island, New Zealand Adventure by Rach Stewart @RachStewartNZ

South Island, New Zealand Adventure by Rach Stewart @RachStewartNZ

The south island of New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to adventure and getting out into the wilderness. Exploring it with my best friend, and meeting other like-minded nature junkies, has been an amazing experience this year. We’ve been on countless missions … I'll be recalling just a few here!

On one trip, three of us girls had spent 3 days in a camper in the south Island of New Zealand, and we had three goals: To hike the 1600m to Roys Peak in Wanaka, explore the Tasman Glacier in Mount Cook, and get as many snowy pictures as possible. This trip was a  2000km roady in 72 hours. On the morning of our hike to Roys Peak, the area was shrouded in low clouds. Being from the North Island in New Zealand, we had flown to the south specifically to conquer this peak, spend time with nature, and take some photographs for my website. I was gutted. We decided we would try tackle it for sunset with a bunch of friends.

Afternoon came and the land was still covered in low clouds .. but one of the guys I was with convinced our group the low clouds were going to lift, so we figured it was worth a go to hike; especially since we had flown down there with that one specific goal in mind! Trips may seem empty if we can’t experience the incredible things nature throws at us with a bit of adventure and fun. Hiking is the one thing that brings me the closest to nature and the bonus is being able to capture it in a photograph.

So 8 of us set off up the peak, and just like magic, the low clouds lifted and the view was incredible.

This was a reminder as to why we had wanted to hike this mountain .. I honestly believe it is one of the best views in New Zealand. After some hard slogging up a dirty track, then hiking the rest of the way through the few day old snow, we reached the ‘famous instalookout’. Instagram and famousness aside, this view was a slice of paradise. Being surrounded by this kind of beauty was truly humbling-- one of those times when you just look and take it in, forget about life, and only focus on the scene displayed in front of you. These are the kind of moments that stay with you a lifetime.

As the sun set, the light show was incredible. I had made a mad decision to descend down the mountain at the last minute, so a scramble/half run/fall/slide on my bum down the snow got me to where I wanted to be. The light only lasted a few short minutes, but we had it all to ourselves. All you could hear was each of us yelling at nature telling her what a beautiful show she was putting on!


The hike down in the dark was pretty grueling, but pizza and a beer were well enjoyed once we got to the bottom.

Later that night, us girls began the drive to Mount Cook, a 2 1/2 hour journey from Wanaka. I realised half way through that drive, I was way more tired than I thought, so we camped on the side of the road until our alarm went off at 5 a.m.

After an hour’s drive after awakening, we arrived at the Tasman Glacier Lake.The blue hour was starting and an incredible sunrise was about to follow, but we still had to walk the trail to the lake. Another mad run consisted of scrambling over boulders, slipping on ice, while being surrounded by mountains and icebergs.

Although the scene was incredible, it was a stark reminder of global warming and the retreat of our glaciers. In the 1970’s the Tasman Lake didn’t exist. The glacier now recedes approximately 500 – 800 metres a year. It is predicted that the Tasman Glacier will disappear completely in 10-20 years time. Our planet is far more fragile than we humans are, there is only so much we can do to save it.

For a few of my trips, there had been times where my friends and I traveled to get to our destinations for a mad amount of time. On one trip, a small group of us wanted to see the mighty Mount Cook, which stands at 3,724 metres from a higher perspective. This trip was taken when we were up 24 hours from flying and shooting scenes around the south and astro at night with our cameras.  

After that trip, my friends and I decided to hike to the Sealy Alpine Tarns after a 40 minute nap in the car. That 5am hike up almost 2,000 stairs to 1500m elevation in the dark on barely any sleep was definitely a challenge, but the reward was well worth it.

Scenic views over Mount Cook, Hooker Lake, the Tasman Valley, and a pretty incredible sunrise.

We hung out up here for a couple of hours, spending time with NZ’s Alpine parrots and taking in the scene.

Hooker Lake is another glacial lake growing rapidly as the Hooker Glacier retreats. It is predicted the lake will grow another 4km until it reaches the glacier bed.

Being amongst nature is really some of the best therapy you can come across. My advice would be to try and get out there and embrace it as much as you can. It’s so good for the soul and for me makes me appreciate how lucky we are to be living on this beautiful planet. We are the only ones who can save it and every bit of help I am positive makes a difference.



Dec 06, 2016 • Posted by Alexandra Bucholtz

I spent about 2 months backpacking through New Zealand on 2014, the South Island was most definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Loved reading this and reliving one of the greatest adventures ever! Thanks!

Sep 30, 2016 • Posted by Htut Aung Khant

Wooow!!! So inspiring… I’m planning to go there in next year March. Thank you for sharing experiences………

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