My name is Ryan Crenshaw and I spent 5 months studying Mechanical Engineering in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime; that’s one cliché which held true. I spent most of my time outside of class backpacking through the country’s famous trails and mountains. Let me tell you, if you want to do some good hiking, no one does it better than the Kiwi’s. It was absolutely spectacular, nowhere in the country could I find a dull landscape. I got tired of taking pictures after a while because every bit of the countryside looked like it belonged on a postcard. From jumping the world’s first bungee jump, to studying at the country’s top engineering university, to hiking snowy mountain ridges of the Fiordland’s, to trekking along the beaches and green rainforests of the west coast, the trip was unlike anything I anticipated and so much better.
I learned several things from my time over there: first, you have to stop planning and just let the adventure happen, that’s what makes it an adventure. I am an avid planner, but I had to learn to just go with the flow when tramping around with nothing but a backpack; I found that this usually leads to a better adventure than what you would have planned in the first place. Secondly, I learned that the most beautiful trails don’t mean a thing without good people. Adventures are less about the places you go and more about the people you find there. I was able to meet hikers from all over the world and heard some of the craziest stories. I met people who quit their job and are now sponsored to travel the world for the next 7 years, and people whose job is literally to throw explosives at mountainsides to trigger avalanches. These conversations were usually my favorite part of the hike. The highlights of my trips were just as often the who’s as the where’s.
New Zealand may be a small country, but after hiking over 160 miles in it I have barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer! I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.