The Mountain is Calling – Climbing Mt. Roy in Wanaka, New Zealand

My first “real” hike up a mountain, yeah, you read that correctly. It was my first real mountain hike that I’ve ever done. Now I know what you’re thinking, how on earth can this be Dan’s first? I mean come on, this guy has lived in Colorado for 9 years! Not once has he done a hike or climb of any of the 14ers in Colorado?!

It’s true, while I did live in Colorado for 9 years, I never really did any kind of hard mountain climb or hike. Yeah sure I played around a little bit here and there in the mountains and did a little hike or two, but as far as something that was physically exhausting, nope. Most of my time in Colorado was spent in Denver.I lived the city life to the fullest. The mountains in Colorado were just a place that I would go snowboarding or to spend a weekend in Breckenridge.

Teryn woke up that morning with a very intense migraine, the kind where you can’t see straight and any kind of movement hurts. It being Saturday, my day off from the 9 to 5, she told me to get out of the house and enjoy the day. I figured my loud movements around the house would only make her migraine worse, so I decided to get in the van and go for a drive.

At first, I was just going to maybe snap some pictures of Lake Wanaka, but I have grown bored of that and I wanted something more. Since arriving in Wanaka, we have been told how amazing the hike up Mt. Roy was, but also of how difficult it is. Many people told us that it was around a 5 to 6 hour hike and in most parts it was straight up.

So I thought for a minute to myself…well, Teryn is sick and will probably be all day. I might as well at least go to the car park at Mt. Roy and check it out. Something about that mountain was calling my name.

The mountain is calling.

The mountain is calling. It’s a phrase I often hear. Well, it’s true, and this big ol’ guy was calling my name. So I drove over to the car park, which was located just outside Wanaka. I glanced up at the sky and noticed the blue skies starting to turn 50 shades of dark blue, or it may have been 49 shades. Either way, it wasn’t looking good, especially for a 5 to 6 hour hike up a mountain. As I was standing there I saw a van of 4 or 5 kids pull up, and by kids, I mean they were probably 19 or 20 year olds. They started to head up the mountain. That was when I said to myself “Well shit, if they are going to go right now, then I might as well give it a go too!”
I grabbed a water bottle and away I went.

My first thoughts were that I will just climb this thing just until it starts to rain and then I will go back home. It seemed like at any minute it was going to downpour. The first part was just covered in various kinds of animal poop. Mostly of sheep. It wasn’t long until I already was witnessing amazing views of the lake and town. No rain yet, so I might as well keep going.

I quickly caught up with the 5 teenagers that I saw at the bottom before I started the hike, so I naturally tried to crack some jokes with them as I passed them by. Are we there yet? There is a bar at the top right?

I began to notice just how out of shape I am again. Oh joy. This beer gut is trying to keep me down and back in the pub. I thought I was about halfway up by now. Damn, I was wrong. I’m now thinking about how my little water bottle with cupcakes printed on it was already halfway gone.

I was determined to keep going until it rained.

All I could hear in my mind was Teryn telling me that I should have brought more water and my mom telling me that I should have worn a warmer coat. One of these days I’ll learn, but today was not one of them. Nonetheless, I was determined to keep going until it rained.

There were parts of the hike that I slowly went in and out of my brain. Doing a solo hike or climb can be spiritual, they say. Well I’m not sure if I would call it spiritual or just genuinely going crazy. Sometimes when I’m doing something difficult my mind wanders and I start envisioning friends and family both cheering me on and being super positive or they are being negative and telling me that I can’t do it. Nothing I hate more than hearing someone tell me that I can’t do it. This is definitely something I started to do while I was in basic training in the army. Also, whenever I go for runs, I imagine my best friend Jared running next to me. It was then on the hike I started to think of my friend and how I still miss him every day. He may be gone from this physical earth, but he was with me on this hike.

You might be thinking…damn just how hard is this hike? Haha It really wasn’t that hard, but for me it kind of was. I didn’t bring headphones, I didn’t have service to play music on my phone. It was just me and nature. Doin it! I’m also one of those people that talks to himself on the regular, always up in my mind.

Onward and upward!

Every time I stopped for a breather, the view was just that much better than the last. It was at that point that I was addicted and committed to this hike. Check the sky, yep it’s still 49 shades of blue, but still not a drop of rain. Onward and upward!
Around one of the corners, I noticed a guy eating what looked like a cup of noodles on a rock. “What a great spot for lunch eh?” I said. “It’s a great day to have lunch on the side of the mountain!” he replied. I think he noticed that I was quite out of breath when he said: “Don’t worry man, you are almost there.” “Is it worth it?” I asked. He replied, “It is, It is one of the best views I have I ever seen in my life!” I smiled and said “Okay sweet, I will keep going then, thank you. Enjoy your view and enjoy your lunch.”

The top was getting close, I could feel it. I could feel it in my legs, at least. I hope no one reads this that has hiked up Mt. Roy…they will think I’m a sissy for sure. No matter though, I was in this to win it and the prize was the view I would have from the top!

Back to a time before I knew how to actually use my camera settings. 🙁

Finally, I had reached this amazing walkout, which you’ll see in the video. I tried to get a good video of it, but of course, the 49 shades of blue were working against me.

This, of course, was still not the top.

After I gathered myself I started in the 4th quarter of this game that I’d created. I tend to create difficult hurdles into a game that I must win. I guess it’s just another mind trick that I do to myself. I ran into the teens again at this point and asked if they had any water. They graciously filled up my bottle. I couldn’t thank them enough, I now had enough in me to make it the very tippy top!

360 degrees of beautiful.

The walk along the top of Mt. Roy was completely out of this world, 360 degrees of beautiful. It was quite windy, almost knocking me over at times. I saw the teens again at the top, which was now just 100 meters away! “You made it! Whooo!” they yelled to me. I was so excited, I ran up the last little part to the very top of Mt. Roy! I had made it! I did it! I successfully hiked up a mountain that was said to be a difficult hike! It was quite unreal. I felt like I was inside a postcard of New Zealand. I am in New Zealand. I made this happen. I am doing this. I am really doing this!

I wanted to bask in my glory of doing this hike that I have just spent that last 3 or 4 hours doing. At this point I completely lost track of time. It was Saturday, who gives a shit what time it is. After a few pictures and video. I noticed the wind picking back up again to the point that I no longer felt safe standing up. I quickly realized that I needed to get down and as fast I could before this storm hit.

Hiking up a mountainside can be dangerous, but hiking down can be just as dangerous, if not more. Reason being, going back down you aren’t really thinking and you think it’s easy and not paying attention and the incline of the mountain can send you spiraling down pretty fast, and soon I was tripping over my own feet.

I made it back down and back to Dug, our sweet campervan. All safe and sound. It never did rain. My legs were pretty shot that night, but I had an all-time high. I felt amazing. I felt like somewhere between skydiving and getting a new tattoo. That is the best I can describe it. I had done something I have not done before and I felt damn good.

I want more!

Now I want more. I want to hike more, I want to learn to climb, I want to learn how to be a better photographer and I want to learn how to gather the words to describe my feelings into this blog. I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that this will inspire you to get out the house and go experience something that you have never done before, something that you have always wanted to do but were too scared to do or something that you’ve been told by someone that you couldn’t do.

Go. Do. It. You’ll feel like you have never felt before. You’ll love like you have never loved before.
Do you hike? What is your favorite hike? What is your favorite mountain? Leave a comment below!


Out on top of Mt. Roy in Wanaka, New Zealand!

A post shared by Daniel J (@global.giraffe) on

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Global Giraffe is a travel blog that is focused on keeping it real. This isn't a fluffy rainbow magical travel blog, here you'll find real life situations, tips and advice for the every day person that wants to know more about places they've never been to. Global Giraffe is led by Dan and Teryn. After leaving Denver, Colorado, they decided to try to take on the world, one odd job at a time. They are currently residing in Asheville, North Carolina. For more updates follow Global Giraffe on FacebookTwitter and Instagram



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