Hiking and Birdwatching in New Zealand

If there’s one thing that everybody says about New Zealand, it’s that it’s one of the most beautiful countries to visit, especially for the scenery. When I visited last Easter for my brother’s graduation, we decided to come early so we could hike along the Banks Peninsula. Offering a variety of hiking trails, we opted to do the three day hike; it was just my dad, my mum and me. The first day lasted for seven hours and I was absolutely shattered by the time we reached our hut for the night – it was mostly uphill which killed my legs (being honest, I’m not known for exercising regularly).  I guess you could say we had it easy in someway, because we had our luggage taken from one accommodation to the next. However, we were still carrying water and food. It may sound like I’m complaining, but the views were stunning — one of a kind. Being New Zealand, we also saw a lot of sheep on the pathway and up the mountains (did you know that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand?).

We reached the summit of the hike, which was 806 meters high, on the second day. I remember it being extremely windy and almost being blown over. By the third day, I was ready to collapse and kept sitting down – to my father’s exasperation. What I love about New Zealand is that they know how to do tourism; they’ve made hiking a popular tourist attraction without jeopardising the wildlife. They prioritise the protection and conservation of flora and fauna, which is how it should be everywhere. The accommodation is environmentally friendly and you are expected to carry your rubbish with you until you find somewhere to dispose of it properly.

After my brother’s graduation, we stayed an extra few days to travel to Stewart Island where we took a ferry to Ulva Island which houses a bird sanctuary. Armed with cameras and a bird-identifying book, we leisurely walked at our own pace while frequently spotting different species of birds. They were obviously used to human presence which made it all the more exciting as they would approach us at times. I didn’t think I would take to birdwatching so much — even my parents were surprised. There was something so enjoyable about switching off from the outside world for the day and enjoying the nature around us. To top the day off, on our ferry ride back we watched in amazement as a swarm of albatrosses followed us, riding the wind trail we left behind.

I think New Zealand is a must-visit place for those who enjoy outdoor activities as there is something for everyone: for all ages, all experience levels and all preferences. The people are also incredibly friendly and welcoming. I’ve had the privilege of travelling to quite a few countries and I have to say New Zealand is one of my favourite places. No matter how many times I visit, there’s always something new and exciting to experience.

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April 2021
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