We got a car! Three girls from CSU and I decided that it was the best and cheapest way to explore the island, and how could I live in New Zealand for six months without learning how to drive on the other side of the road? It is a big, bright red, 1996 Ford station wagon. It is the furthest thing from nice or new, but it fits the road trip criteria perfectly. This weekend, we drove it to Mt. Cook, the highest peak in NZ, and camped for two nights. We folded down all of the seats, and believe it or not, slept four people side by side comfortably.
The first night, we arrived after it was already dark (because it is pitch dark by 6pm) so we set up camp and had no idea what our surroundings looked like. The next morning, we woke to an amazing sunrise over a lake with a backsplash of the southern alps. It was a great start to a great day. We then headed up to Mt. Cook Village to figure out where we wanted to hike.
Mt. Cook is beautiful. The mountains are much smaller than the mountains in colorado, but they grow steeply out of flat land. It looks as if the highest peaks of Colorado were cut off and placed in a field. We went on a 3 hour hike between the crevice of two mountsiains up to a glacier... so cool! We got rained on... actually, poured on... so afterwards we found a coffee shop and warmed up next to the fire place. We then went to the Church of the Good Shepard which is famous for being in the best location of star gazing in all of New Zealand. We camped not too far from this spot and found out for ourselves that the stars were impeccable. The Milky Way was glowing green and the Mars and Jupiter were impossible to miss. They reflected right off of the lake that we camped next to and where brighter than any stars I have ever seen. It's was really fascinating because the constellations are different in the southern hempisphere than in the northern hempishpher, so we laid on the ground for a good hour just staring. The next morning we woke with the sun and it was hands down the most incredible sunrise I have ever seen. It was the brighest, most vibrant colors seeping from over the mountain and reflecting a mirror image in the lake. I will post pictures... unedited, unenhanced, and unfiltered.
I just got back to campus and have some work to do for class. Three weeks into the semester and reality is just now starting to set in that I still have responsibilities... well, sort of. This semester might take the award for my lowest GPA, but it will definitely be the semester that I learn the most from experiences. Luckily, grades don't transfer back to CSU as long as I pass my courses... and I'm confident I can manage that much. Not sure what next weekend's plans are, but we don't have school Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday this week (HA!), so I'm sure my next update will be filled with new adventures.