A couple of weeks back, Banu reached out to me, asking if we would like to join her on a hike while she was visiting the South Island for work. Of course, the timing worked out perfectly, as it was the week we put aside to travel between jobs.
We all agreed to do Mount Somers, which is a pretty simple 2-day track in the Mountain Range close to Christchurch. It is also conveniently located to Mount Sunday, which is known to be where the city of Edoras in Rohan from Lord of the Rings was filmed. Luca and I were really excited to visit this destination, as it was on our “New Zealand Must Do” list. And after the fact, we can now say that we have completed our pilgrimage to walk on “holy” ground in New Zealand. Time to go home?
The day before our hike with Banu, Luca and I set out to explore the Mount Sunday area. The drive out to Mount Sunday was an experience in itself. Those back country dirt roads are always so eventful to drive on with a little Nissan Sunny Super Saloon.
Just when we arrived at Mount Sunday, it started to storm outside so we waited in the car for awhile. The storm was not giving up and I had enough of waiting, so we decided to drive further down the road to see what else there was to see. We pulled over at a little scenic overlook of the valley and Luca decided to start taking a time lapse in the rain for 30 minutes or so. I was okay with it, so long as we didn’t have to wait too long. I don’t consider patience to be one of my strengths. After 15 minutes I started to go crazy with boredom. I kept saying, “Are we done yet?” “Only 5 minutes has gone by?!?” “Ah! I can’t sit here any longer!!!” Another 15 minutes went by and I was so excited that the 30 minutes was up! Time to go home! But, nope. We had to wait 5 more minutes, “or the time lapse would be too short,” according to Luca. I was dying. Just as I was starting the engine as the last 5 minutes was coming to an end, the clouds departed and revealed the whole valley, with gorgeous snow capped mountains in the background. It was an epic sight! Luca made sure to say, “I told you so! Look how far a little bit of patience gets you.”
After Luca made me wait even longer so he could get the epic cloud movements on film, we got to go on the little hike up Mount Sunday. I got out of the car and ran around for a few minutes to burn some of my stored energy caused by boredom. It helped.
There was a reason for the sudden departure of clouds: A LOT of wind. So much wind. Like, wind that could lift you up and fly you away if you spread your arms out like a bird and jumped. Don’t ask how I found out this was possible…
The wind made us giddy and full of laughter. It was another one of those situations where nature completely amazed me with its strength and power.
Even when I was laying on the ground and gripping onto grass so I wouldn’t blow away, I still didn’t miss being awestruck from the incredible view on the top of Mount Sunday. New Zealand still hasn’t failed me when it comes to epic views.
Our time on top of the mountain was short, as there was very obviously another storm coming in. I screamed through the wind, “Luca this is amazing but we have to go. Mordor is coming!” We started to run back and just when we made it to the safety of the car, the storm picked up and it started to rain again.
Luckily the storm was behind us and the car drove faster than the storm, so we had a beautiful view of the valley ahead of us on the way back.
We were both really excited to see Banu when she arrived. Our moments together are usually filled with witty banter, good food, and a lot of luck. For some reason we are always in the perfect places at the perfect times when we are with her.
We woke up early the next day and started our adventure up Mount Somers. The weather was as perfect as can be and we were all really excited to be trekking around. The first part was a steady climb through an old coal mine.
After about an hour or so, we came across a gorgeous golden field with a view of the Western Mountains. We stopped for awhile to take it in and snack a bit. It’s always important to remember that adventuring is not about reaching the destination, but rather enjoying the journey.
We headed onwards to the first hut, where we stopped and had lunch.
After lunch we continued to climb up through a little valley. We stopped at a really cool water cave system and took some pictures.
We reached the top of the mountain with a reward of an amazing mountain scape and superb lighting.
The hut that we would be staying at that evening was a little bit further after we reached the top. Unfortunately the wind started to pick up and going down the hill was a bit painful for our tired and sore legs. We were greeted at the hut by a group of 6 friends from the Czech Republic. They were a fantastic bunch and we all hit it off instantly. It was a night of card playing, laughter, and lovely company.
We awoke the next day to a gorgeous sunrise.
Before we left, a couple of the guys from the hut told us about the Manuka trees and how we could taste the Manuka sap off of the trees. Manuka trees in New Zealand are known to have a lot of antibacterial properties and are used in some medicinal medicines. We had no shame licking the trees and tasting the sap while we made our way through the forest.
Unfortunately it poured down rain the last couple of hours of our hike. It was a bit uncomfortable, but we were happy to have dry clothes in the car waiting for us. At this point I I have learned to expect at least one downpour on every hike that I do in New Zealand.
Thank you Banu for such a fun journey! Until next time!