We woke up early and got a hunger buster at McDonalds and a subway sandwich for later and then headed into the woods passed the mountain bike trails towards Ben Lomond. This was supposed to be a stunning track that was said to be 8 to 10 hours return. We headed up through the dark woods and then emerged on a snowy mountainside overlooking Queenstown. Here we saw two Keas (Photo 1), which are large green endangered birds with brilliant orange under their wings known for being mischievous. We stood and watched them for 3 or 4 minutes as they hopped around looking for food coming within a meter of us at times before flying off into the trees (https://youtu.be/DGP6O7vGByc). We continued up to the Ben Lomond stopping for a sandwich break at this saddle. Once refueled we started up the very snowy, slushy, rocky Ben Lomond towards the summit. The snow was mid thigh deep at times and the track was very slippery. After a few hours we finally reached possibly the most incredible summit yet. We were on the tallest peak for a great distance and had a 360-degree view of snowcapped mountains, Lake Wakatipu, and all of Queenstown (Photos 2, 3 and 4). The summit was only maybe 4 meters wide. It was just a single rock above everything on a rocky ridgeline. There was a terrifying cliff in front of us that dropped off a few hundred meters. I had to continue taking deep breaths trying to let in all the beauty, as it was overwhelming in every direction. What an incredible thing to be overwhelmed by! We stayed there until the cold started permeate our layers. We booked it down the mountain stopping for a sandwich break in the saddle again. We then flew through the forest stopping to soak up a view of Lake Wakatipu illuminated by the dusky light in a way that made it all look fake it was so beautiful. Again it was a challenge to take in all the colors, and the sheer depth of the scene in front of me (Photo 5). We made it back to Butterfli watched the sun set (Photos 6 and 7), showered up and then headed into town to grab another Fergburger before going to a pub to grab some drinks. We stayed there for a few hours, Justin beat the bartender in rock paper scissors and got 50% off Jegerbombs which helped us get nice and smiley. We then headed back to Butterfli and played shithead (a card game) For a few hours before heading to bed.
We woke up and headed to an awesome little diner called Arnolds diner for breakfast. After that we walked around town checking out some thrift shops before stopping at the ice rink. David and I had some hot chips and watch playoff hockey while Justin skated. Justin is an incredible hockey player but decided to give it up a few years ago to pursue other passions. We watched him effortlessly and elegantly float through and around kids he was playing pickup with. It was truly stunning. It was an amazing feeling watching a friend who has mastered something express themselves through their passion. Justin could have played overseas but he decided to go to school and become a graphic designer instead. It was incredible to see him in action. After he had gotten his fill we grabbed food to make dinner back at Butterfli. I made us a huge pasta dish with veggies and toast. After dinner we settled in around the dining room table with the whole Butterfli crew and had an amazing night of stories and connection. It had me wanting to stay there for a while. The energy was amazing and it was full. It had me considering getting a yearlong working visa after I graduate and exploring New Zealand or perhaps a new country more deeply. Many of the people staying at Butterfli had lived there for moths and they had created a family feel together. I could easily see doing that at some point in my life. But that is a long time away but it is noted in the back of my mind! The crew headed out to town, we stayed behind as we had an early flight. The air was thick with connection and a feeling of home. We headed to bed satiated on many levels.
The next morning we were up at six. I made huge breakfast of eggs, veggies and musli and then we were off to the airport to fly back to Wellington full from our incredible adventure.
Photo 1 - Kea
Photo 2 - View From Summit Of Ben Lomond
Photo 3 - View From Summit Of Ben Lomond
Photo 4 - The Crew Atop Ben Lomond
Photo 5 - View Of Lake Wakatipu
Photo 6 - Sunset Over Lake Wakatipu
Photo 7 - Sunset View From Tent