If you think that this is one of those life coaching blog posts, I suggest you continue reading and surprise yourself a bit.
It was for a 10-day vacation when I first set foot in South Island, New Zealand. I had very high expectations from the trip as it is known for amazing landscapes and adventures. I was with 4 friends of mine in this trip. Day 1 started in Christchurch. It is a small city that travellers usually use as jump-off point. We rented a car from here and started the 8-hr drive to Te Anau for Day 2. Everyone who heard about this long drive as first agenda called us crazy. I agree as it is not for the weak and sleepyheads. But we needed the long drive down south for Milford Sound on Day 3.
As early as 6am, geared with comfortable shoes, warm sweater, camera, snacks, water and, most especially, a raincoat, we went for a guided full-day hike and a boat cruise. Milford Sound is a fiord which means it was formed as process of glaciation over millions of years. According to Wikipedia, the rainfall here can reach up to 10 inches in a span of 24 hours (imagine it is almost one-full ordinary ruler). And this rainfall makes it an interesting spot with all the temporary waterfalls it creates. Another interesting site we visited in South Island is Te Anau Glow Worm Cave (Day 4). We explored caves lit by hundreds of glow worms that interestingly form the shape of rocks and emitting blue-green light. For those travelling to South Island, Queenstown is a must in the itinerary (Day 5). It is one of those cities that every spot or angle is picture-worthy so we probably took tons of landscape photos than selfies.
We had a quick stroll in Arrowtown which is known for gold mining history and as a Chinese settlement. We took it up a notch on Day 6 for a hike in Mount Aspiring National Park and a scenic drive to Wanaka. Seeing glaciers in Roy's Peak was one of the highlights that day. Little did we know that it can be topped with our unplanned detour to Mount Cook. Before the trip, we all knew it is the highest mountain in New Zealand but the hesitations to come here was the challenge of enduring another 10-hr road trip as we aim to be in Franz Josef on Day 7 and drop off the car next day in Greymouth Railway Station (Day 8). Greymouth is not as spectacular as the other towns in South Island but we were comforted by the presence of fast food chains like KFC and were delighted with natural wonders like "Pancake Rocks" and Blowholes. Our Trans-Alpine Tour (Day 9) from Greymouth to Christchurch offered respite from all the long drives we had. As my friends head to the Philippines next day, I decided to go to Akaroa (Day 10). It was a worthwhile day trip to see the waters and to eat fresh salmon from a pop up stall along the harbour. It was definitely a break from landscape views and superb steak meals that we had for the past 9 days.
New Zealand is definitely one of the best places to lose yourself in. To lose oneself, here, is the feeling of not being that someone you once were. And it is not because of a sudden change in your values or beliefs. Rather, it is what happens when you're traveling in a foreign land, wandering in the beauty that you saw only in post cards and conquering the highest mountains that you never thought you can climb.