Going somewhere new for education always seems to give you more than the sum of the enrolment price.
Well, that is if you take advantage of it. Whether it’s another state, country, or continent, new places are full of opportunities to learn things that we otherwise never would have come across.
Surely this is true for New Zealand, as the area surrounding Lincoln University provides some of the best outdoor opportunities I have come across in my travels.
Considering the size of the South Island and Lincoln’s central location, everything is within a few hours’ drive, very convenient for that late night spontaneous hiking decision. Along with a couple of locals, I decided to take a class on the trail last Sunday, and it was well worth it.
We left before the sun rose and had coffees before the workday started, knowing our hike would take most of the day. As the Southern Alps began to show off their snow caps, morning fog settled in the valley ahead of us, and frost grew from even the tiniest bits of barbed wire alongside the road.
At the trailhead, we met the first of a few acquaintances along the trail, but this one didn’t have much to say. But then again, what would you say to a kea trying to rip apart a rental van company by the same name? Determined to deface the apparently offensive car, the gritty parrot went about his business even after we shooed him away.
On our way up we met more talkative travellers; one from Germany, some locals, and even a woman from Scotland.
I have always found it fascinating how people from all over the world can all see the same beauty in a place without ever having spoken to one another.
Clearly, we all saw the same appeal on our hike.
A bite out of the first bit of snow signalled our ascent into the alpine zone, and a push up to the top of Avalanche Peak left us with some of those incredible views that humans from all over crave to see. The top had us intersect with more local hikers, and of course, another Kea. We figured it could be the same one, chasing us out of spite, but we had to fend it off from stealing some snacks out of our packs. It hung around, feathers ruffled by the wind and beak searching for anything interesting.
We were in his element, as the worlds only alpine parrot, the kea knows the peaks of the Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass much better than any climber could hope to. He posed for some photos, declared his alpine superiority, and allowed us passage to the bottom of the mountain.
A good pie and a safe ride home made for a Sunday I would have only had while studying abroad at Lincoln University, and an educational day I couldn’t get anywhere else.
Whatever it is you’re studying, make sure your education takes place outside of the classroom, too.