New Zealand Part 5: Westland Tai Poutini National Park

From Haast, we started our three day backpacking trip. It was so much more intense than the first one! All I knew was the hike would be longer (11 miles) and it would be more uphill. I didn’t realize it would be as technical as it was. We had to venture across the rocky riverside, which was icy, and climb over a landslide. I got inside my head on the way up, and did not keep my usual positive attitude. Luckily, we were rewarded with good views and hot springs at the end!

The next day, we had the option to hike up to the next hut and back. A German solo hiker who had come that way said that hike was even more technical, and I just couldn’t mentally do it. He did tell me the first hour and a half was lovely, walking along the valley with spectacular views. My new favorite 10 year old and I decided we would go out that far and then turn back. It ended up being great, as the hike was a little less than 3 hours, the views were so worth it, and we had the afternoon to relax. By this point, people had gotten used to me having a camera around and I enjoyed them pointing out great photo spots that gave me an opportunity for some short side trips from the hut. The three that went all the way to the next hut came back around 5pm and while they enjoyed it, looked pretty haggard.

I was hopeful the way back would not be nearly as terrible. It was supposed to be raining all day, which had me really nervous/scared. Luckily, the rain held off and my expectations were adjusted such that I had a fabulous time! It helped I put my camera away and didn’t have to deal with it being all in my way. On the way up, I had analogized to work to mentally get myself through it (you have a known end goal, but you will encounter obstacles along the way and you have no choice but just to get over them to get to the finish line). On the way back this same analogy brought me so much more joy, as a coworker recently told me I thrive in the chaos. I knew we’d get through it, and the scary parts were not actually scary at all. We all felt so great at the end of the hike and celebrated with champagne.

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