Merry belated Christmas. I spent mine hiking in the wilds of New Zealand and it was absolutely fantastic. I’ve been back for a few days and have reluctantly accepted the return to real life. Not only has a brilliant holiday finished, it was the last planned trip for this period of funemployment. Come the new year, I’ll be searching for a contract role while I search for a permanent position further afield.

New Zealand was, as always, magnificent. I’ve loved that country for some time and this time was even better because I got out of town and into the amazing wilderness. I booked to do the Routeburn Track in about February, after deciding I wanted to spend my next birthday doing something for me. I’m a Christmas baby so that means it’s often difficult to separate birthday and festive celebrations. Not that I have a problem with my family – far from it. But rather than fret about catering options, I decided that the festive season of 2018 would be all about me and filling my cup with happiness (instead of fizz, which is probably a good idea for many reasons).

I chose a guided hike in a group, and a friend ended up coming along too. That worked out well because the group was larger than anticipated at 30+ people, and being a lone ranger in that number of people could have been tricky. The guided hike also meant staying in luxury – ensuite rooms, three-course dinners, drying facilities – basically, the full Monty.

The Routeburn Track is in the Fiordland National Park, so not far from Milford Sound. It’s less popular than Milford, but is just as spectacular.  The Fordland area gets up to 8 metres of rain a year, so it was no small miracle that not a drop fell during our walk. The weather was magnificent. A Christmas miracle, perhaps.

As with my Larapinta adventure, the dynamics of the group were interesting. The group was much larger than Larapinta, so I didn’t have the opportunity to have a good chat with everyone. To be honest, there were some people I just wasn’t interested in talking to either. That was a group of Americans who I found insufferably obnoxious. Turned out they were all relatively recent Stanford graduates and working in tech companies. Generation Y, I salute your self-entitlement and low social awareness.

Those people aside, I met some really interesting people and on reflection I’m sad I didn’t get the chance to speak to more people in the group. If I do another group trip, I will have to do a better job of casting judgement aside and getting to know more people. That’s part of the fun of travelling, right?

That said, my next hiking adventure will be an overnight camping trip. I took my new backpack to the Routeburn and it was great, so now I need to fill it with all the gear I’ve acquired and do some actual bush camping. I’ll wait for the school holidays to end so have a good month up my sleeve to plan something. I’m pretty excited, actually. Gosh, by the time I go, I may even have a job. Egads.

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