Our first move abroad was to New Zealand. I had wanted to move to the land of kiwis and green things for as long as I could remember. When immigration asked me why I was wishing to enter the country, without hesitation, my innocent and youthful response was, ‘To shear sheep!’ The lady officer laughed out loud, didn’t ask me any more questions and stamped my passport. I was in. I never did sheer any sheep, but I did do lots of hiking, or tramping as the New Zealanders say.
New Zealand is deemed one of the best countries in the world for hiking and it’s easy to see why. The country mainly consists of two islands and we spent most of our time on the south island. We spent almost a month straight hiking. We love back country camping and in New Zealand they are so well set up for overnight treks.
Here is a look at one of our favorite hikes from New Zealand…the Kepler Track.
The Kepler is one of nine hikes deemed the “Great Walks” in New Zealand.
Located in Fiorland National Park, great walks are NZ’s premier walking tracks and take the visitor through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.
We started the 60 km/ 37 mile loop climbing the trail to higher elevations. It was like we were walking through an enchanted forest.
Even years later, I can remember stopping and looking at this mossy forest. With the mist, the lighting, the quietness it was a fairy tale like moment. No one else came along the path. We were standing there in this surreal forest gazing with wonder.
We continued up through the misty clouds and above tree line.
Something that seemed crazy to us was New Zealand’s extravagant hut system. On lots of the major tracks the park system offers huts that must be pre-booked. The huts usually have a large common sleeping area, stoves, flushing toilets and other amenities. People go nuts over being able to stay in the huts. We never stayed in the huts and I have mixed feelings about them, but you can’t beat the view from Luxmore Hut which can sleep 54 people.
But for us, we thought the huts were way too expensive (current price is $54 NZD/ $34 USD per person, per night), so we continued up the trail and made the push to the Iris Burn Campsite.
Even though this was a great walk and extremely popular, we did not have lots of people around us. We went long expanses of time without encountering other hikers.
We just got so lucky with the weather this day and I will always remember this ridge line. I’m sure you can imagine that without being properly prepared by wearing a hat, sunscreen and carrying enough water this hike could be brutal. For us, we just had this beautiful, mild temperature day and it was a hikers dream.
I just loved this scenery and New Zealand was such an awesome place to live for a year.
We made our back down below treeline, into the green, warmth and protection lower elevations offer.
There is such a contrast between high elevation ecosystems and those in lower elevations. And one thing New Zealand does not fall short on is greenery. There is so much green everywhere!
We set up camp in a grassy field and in the morning continued to hike out along a path of green.
Once we hit this wider path constructed to accommodate lots of day visitors, we knew we were getting close to the end of the trail and our car.
And just like that this magical hike was over, but remembering this hike has become a memory forever embedded in our minds. Hiking the Kepler has been one of the best hikes we have done for the views it offered. To look down into the fjords from that alpine ridge line gave me feelings like a bird even though my feet remained on the ground. I think having experiences, whatever they may be for you, where one can feel like they are being carried away and are larger than life are so important for the soul. It’s not every day I get to climb along a ridge line like on the Kepler Track, but I can take the memory of that feeling and use it to propel me to work hard towards my next goal. I know there are many more beautiful ridge lines out there in the world that I wish to explore. And this one positive experience of feeling so free will only continue to motivate me to look for my next beautiful ridge line.
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If you go:
New Zealand is an easy country to get around and renting a car is a good way to go. If you plan to be there longer, you can also buy a car and then resell it later.
If you are not sure what gear you will need, check out this post I wrote highlighting all our Favorite Travel Gear.