Now it is time to begin the amazing adventure I took as part of Cox Automotive Australia. The opportunity I was given by my place of work to empower the women in my industry and to make a difference towards gender equality.
Personally, I got so much out of this trip and I want to deliver what I saw, did, felt and learnt along this journey. So, I broke this up into a series of blogs so you can read exactly the amazing experience I was part of!
On Sunday, March 31 ten women and myself of the first Cox Automotive Australia and New Zealand WWD NZ Challenge set off to Queenstown to take on the beautiful New Zealand terrain.
The first night was the easiest part, getting to know each other at a group welcome dinner on the water in the middle of town (at Public, which I spoke about here). For me the hardest part of night one was packing all the stuff, I legit had all the gear and no idea.
It was an early start on the Monday morning when the Hiking New Zealand guides Sarah and Eva picked up all eleven of us to get out to Raspberry Flat in the Mt Aspiring National Park for the first overnight hike.
All went well during the drive from experiencing a herd of deer running alongside, waterfalls coming off the mountains and the van getting through the five ford crossings, yes we managed to cross after a big night of rain until the sixth wouldn’t allow us to pass. So it was lunchtime and then on foot from there.
One thing we were dreading during the trip was getting our feet wet because, as we were explained, there was no time to change shoes and getting our feet wet and even pants wet was inevitable, so, within the first five minutes of our hike, we were crossing fords and getting very wet.
Then it began, off to Aspiring Hut for our first night in the wilderness, carrying our packs and looking the part. Like I said, all the gear and no. We followed the Matukituki River, passing many many cows, which I’m not sure if Kristy had ever seen before by the number of photos she took of them.
Again, all was going well until the weather set in and we began our 9km trek in the pouring rain and heavy wind, but that was nothing compared to what we would later face in the coming days. It was a long hike – or as those in NZ call it tramp – and the stream crossings were second nature by then, but we finally made it to the hut just as the snow in on the mountains set in.
We reached the cold hut, soaked and freezing, it was time for dry clothes and attempt to light a fire. With wet wood and not a lot of kindling to start the blaze, we gave it a very good crack.
Kristy and Billie were impressive on the hack saw – I, on the other hand, was not. Meanwhile, the rest worked hard to get the fire started. Jo took the lead and built the bases of the fire and once the majority of the wood was dry, it was all going in the cabin.
Then the guides lead some team bonding games, which tested the communication skills of the group but also provided some laughs.
These included communicating birth months, favourite animals and home address number in chronological order without speaking. Breanna’s impression of a dolphin and Kristy’s as a seal impressed the whole group – or just had us all in fits of laughter.
After endless photos of the beautiful snow on the mountains, a few games of UNO and a card game called bull shit, it was time for our first meal away from civilisation. Before we ate we learnt the first rule of living in the hut, your headlamp must always be on low beam when in the company for others.
That would have been great if mine wouldn’t stop flashing. Thai curry for dinner and everyone was starving! We spent the rest of the night getting to know each other, which was going to become sooner rather than later with the bedroom we were all about to share. All eleven of us climbed in on the rubber thin mattresses for the night. We did have a random hiker sleeping in the middle of us and I swore to not sleep with Jo again after she slept diagonally across out two beds.
Day two was a fresh morning, but as Eva explained to us the hiking motto “be bold, start cold”, and that we did. Eating breakfast in the dark was an experience, so was putting on wet clothes, wet socks and wet boots. Then it was packs back on and time for hike number two, out of Aspiring Hut on to Rob Roy Glazier.
It was maybe only 10 minutes before our boots were even wetter than before. But we trekked on – or tramped on – another 9km to the Rob Roy Glazier swing bridge, over the Matukiuki River and up the mountain, on our way.
The one thing we noticed the most about this type of hiking was the fact that there was no real set track or path anymore, it was a matter of following the orange signs up the mountain.
We followed the trail through native beech forest along the Rob Roy Stream, a wild glacial river that tumbles down the valley through a series of a steep rocky gorges.
We reach the tree line, after a climb up the side of a mountain, and the beech forest gave way to alpine vegetation. During this amazing walk, we drank from natural streams, had a few trips on the tree roots until we finally reached the hanging glacier beneath Mt Rob Roy and it was spectacular, breathtaking even.
The glacier is active and we ate lunch whilst admiring the glacier along with the beautiful waterfall. Then we made our way back down the mountain, we played a few games to keep us distracted from how long we had left to travel – the knees get very sore on the downhill – but after the 10km round trip, we made it to the bottom.
Once we finally crossed at swing bridge again, we remember, we parked at least 2km from the carpark after ditching the van AND the carpark was still a few kms off – yeah great.
By the time we got to the main road, most of us were working in smaller groups. Maddie and I found ourselves at the back and I found myself with a really sore ankle.
We easily had three people offer us a lift back to the van, but we opted out in the spirit on the trip! Now that is women with drive! Then we finally made it back to the van off again to stop in Wanaka so the guides could buy supplies for the next few days. Wanaka is beautiful and a great place for anyone looking to road trip around the South Island, stop in there!
Next stop, Makarora where we would be spending the night in a little more comfort with proper beds, showers and electricity – which was very much needed in preparation for day three.
We also had to pack three days of supplies into all our packs as well as snacks – the snacks being the most important part.
For our night activities, we had a group dinner at the local pub, which was also our accommodation cabins. Watch out for the local advertisement, it definitely raised some eyebrows.
Also, don’t joke with other hikers about their food and stealing it, they also don’t like that – even if you were trying to start some banter.
The cabins were cozy and we even made an attempt to dry our boots for day three, it kind of worked.
Stay tuned for what was to come!
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