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March 5, 2018 | by  | in Features |
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Hey You – Take a Hike!

Being a university student means days of focused study. You go to lectures, listen, write, and type. You put on your lab coat, pick up your pen, open your laptop. The library becomes your second home. Flash cards and essays spill out of your bag. You learn something new every day.  

This is all pretty cool for sure. But there’s only one life, and your only chance to live it is right now, in this very moment, this very second. There are 24 hours in each day; 86400 seconds of making a moment count.  So let that strong Wellington wind push you outside. Let the sound of the ocean beckon you. Let the sun promise warm tales of adventure that YOU get to write. This world is meant to be explored, and Wellington is the best place to start. For what is the purpose of life, other than to get to the end of the day, having laughed your heart out, tired your legs out, and done something remarkable that makes you truly feel alive.

This city and its outskirts are full of adventures. Here’s a little inspiration for you.

First, your basic checklist:

Walking shoes

Adventurous heart

Transport (with a big group of friends, hiring a van is cheap, otherwise ask around. Someone, somewhere, will have a car or a scooter or a bike).

Tent and overnight gear if you plan to make it a two day adventure!

Raincoat

Snacks (I’m a big fan of cookies)

Money (ICE i.e. Ice cream Expenditure)

Fellow adventurers (I rallied a few troops with the temptation of chips)

Backpack

Camera

  1. Remutaka Forest Park

This is the closest forest park to Wellington with 22,000 ha of fresh air to breathe. It’s a place where you can escape for an easy stroll through native bush with a few loop tracks available, structuring your day with a picnic in the midday sun. Or you can set up camp for the night at Catchpool Valley, either walking into a hut (which you can book via DOC) or pitching tent in the campground. A BBQ for dinner under the glow of starlight: what more could you want?

  1. Tararua Forest Park

This is the place where you should go if you really want to escape the city and get some beautiful views as well. Enter from the west and head to Otaki Forks. The river is cool to swim in, with grassy terraces to sunbathe on. Go back in history to 1930 and visit the steam powered sawmill. Enter from the East at Holdsworth. Here you’ll find that there is almost no better feeling than ascending up into the clouds, reaching stunning tussocky tops, where a great vista greets you.

  1. The Putangirua Pinnacles and beyond

The neighbouring region of the Wairarapa is your destination. A short walk will take you up a river, reaching cliffs of natural pillar formations where the Earth is reaching its arms up to the sky. But the adventure doesn’t end there – the coastal area holds so much to explore. Spontaneity is key here – but definitely head to Palliser Lighthouse. This red and white man-made beauty is reached by a step staircase. Get ready for wild winds that blow your worries away and wild ocean views with half-hidden seals here and there to remind you of your place in the world.

  1. Matiu/Somes Island + Pencarrow Lighthouse

Sometimes all you need in life is a little day out and this is the perfect place to go. Grab your favourite person and head to the waterfront. A ferry ride will take you out to Somes Island where you can wander around this lovely haven of nature and wildlife. The next ferry passing by can take you even further, to somewhere new: Day’s Bay and Eastbourne. There are cafes and little galleries to be explored, and if you feel like stretching your legs, let the sea be your guide, and lead you along the coast. A beautiful lighthouse guards Wellington harbour, and the views back over the city offer a stunning perspective. This will probably be one of the best days of your life.

  1. Makara

Wellington has many places to escape – to the mountains, to the trees or to Makara on the coast. Spectacular views will remind you that it’s the little things in life which really are the most extraordinary. Here, there are walks to skip and twirl and dance along. There is history to explore through the old gun emplacements. There are pebbles to skim across the bay. If you make it at the right time you might even catch the sunset. Watch until  your heart pours out.

  1. Redrocks

Everyone should walk for 20 minutes every day. For those who are too busy to do this, they should walk for at least an hour every day. University is stressful and if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, the best thing is to just stop what you’re doing and go outside. Feel your feet on the ground, and bus and walk your way to Red Rocks. Along the coast, splendid seals will smile their big puppy eyes at you. Rocks over 200 years old, pigmented with red, will remind you that so many moons have risen and fallen long before you and your stresses came – so everything will be alright.

The moral of this story is to live moment by moment. Choose to be where you are right now, then you’ll see the beautiful little things, then you’ll see just how remarkable each breath you take really is. If today was your last day on Earth, how would you live it?

Every day, a new chapter in our lives begin, so let’s make today an extraordinary one.

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent studying in the library, or cleaning your room.

Climb that goddamn mountain.

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