Somewhere in Australia, May 1st
It took a while, but it started hitting me. The other day I put my bike and my hiking gear in a box, and the box in a plane and here I am, traveling around Australia.
Wow, what I’ve been through... Images are flashing through my mind, focusing on one is impossible. Was I flying, was I walking, at the moment I can’t really tell.
Just as I can’t tell what’s ahead. But there is something I am now sure of, what I left behind was superb, an inexhaustible gold mine from which I will draw indefinite strength and happiness.
Since I’ve finished, I’ve been asked the same question so many times: “What was your favorite section of the hike?”. I often gave a different answer because this country is too diverse, too beautiful to pick one place. Instead, I’d like to share with you five of my favorite hikes through New Zealand, from North to South.
1 - Tongariro Crossing (day hike, relatively easy): This hike is the only one on my list that is part of the New Zealand Great Walks, 10 well-maintained tracks in spectacular landscapes. On this one, you’ll walk among the snowy volcanoes and alpine lakes. And even if there is heaps of people, I haven’t met anyone who has regretted it!
2 - Tararua Range (2-5 days, for experienced hikers): Welcome to the wild! Even if this mountain range isn’t far from the capital Wellington, you’ll walk along crystal clear rivers, mossy forests, stunning crests and... harsh, unpredictable weather, potentially dangerous. Get ready to stay up there longer than expected!
3 - Richmond Range (5-10 days, for experienced hikers): In this mountain range, I cried tears of joy. The North part of the South Island is absolutely stunning. You can walk from hut to hut, drink water straight from the pure rivers, enjoy breathtaking alpine ridges... A must-do!
4 - Two thumb track (3-4 days, moderate difficulty): If I ranked this one among my five best hikes in New Zealand, it’s mostly because of the landscape from Stag Saddle: an outstanding view on Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. The aesthetic of the place is insane, even more if you walk down on the ridge to the lake.
5 - Motatapu Track (2-3 days, physically challenging): Get ready for a lot of up and downs, but it’s totally worth it! From the top of the hills, you can see the rivers winding their way across golden fields. And in between, 3 really comfortable huts to sleep in. Plus, you’ll be in the area of Wanaka and Queenstown, two well-know cities for outdoor enthusiasts!