The Day the Young Adventuress Tried to Kill Me

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“I'm not really a hiker, Liz.”

I didn't keep track of how many times I uttered this to my friend Liz as we were driving around Wanaka, New Zealand, and she was pointing out all sorts of mountains she wanted to make me climb.

There was talk of a hike to Rob Roy Glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park. A hike to Rocky Mountain Summit just outside Wanaka. And what would have probably been a full day climb of Roys Peak.

“Again, I'm not really a hiker, Liz.”

I said this many times, but what I really meant was “I'm so incredibly unfit and I actually HATE hiking and I may cry and just sit down in the middle of the track and tell you to leave me.”

Rocky Mountain Track summit

But of course I never said these things. I stayed quiet, secretly hoping the weather would be terrible or that Liz would forget about all the hiking. (But who was I kidding? This is the girl who spent weeks riding horses around Mongolia and who lives in NEW ZEALAND now, for God's sake.)

Thankfully for us both, the weather and our lack of ability to plan anything conspired for us to tackle the Rocky Mountain Track first.

Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka

The track — located about 20 minutes from Wanaka — is a slightly more obscure one in the region. Even though it's close to a lot of the other popular walks in the area, not many people seem to know about it. The track is maintained by New Zealand's Department of Conservation, and has a few different hiking options — we of course we going for the whole enchilada — the 7-kilometer track that would take us to the Rocky Mountain Summit and back.

DOC estimates the whole hike should take about 3 hours. It's probably listed as an “easy” hike, but a hike that would have you scale a waterfall and leap over a river full of sharks would probably be classified as “easy” in “We-Downplay-Everything” New Zealand.

Rocky Mountain Track with Young Adventuress

We arrived around 3 p.m., armed with water bottles, a few layers of clothing, and a bag of potato chips to reward ourselves with at the top.

Liz had done this hike before, and assured me it would take us far less time than the DOC estimate — “We'll probably be at the top in 45 minutes,” she said.

Famous last words.

Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka

45 minutes into the hike, and we were nowhere near the top. We had conquered the easy first part of the track (mostly gravel) and climbed about a billion steps to a lookout point over Diamond Lake.

Rocky Mountain Track

Diamond Lake from the Rocky Mountain Track

By 45 minutes in, we had a nice view over Lake Wanaka, but I was out of breath and starting to get tired. Luckily, I had plenty of excuses to stop and take photos.

Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka

To be fair, I wasn't the only one breathing heavy. But Liz was making fun of me anyway. I pointed out, though, that I TOLD her I was not a hiker nor in shape (unless “shape” means kind of round and squishy).

I wasn't about to give up, though.

Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka

We continued on, Liz assuring me that the top was “not far now” every time I would be tempted to rest my screaming calves on an inviting-looking rock — even though I could clearly see that the top was not, in fact, anywhere nearby.

We climbed up small cliffs. Trudged along muddy, narrow switchbacks. And Liz kept saying “almost there, almost there,” followed usually by, “Oh, actually I don't remember this part from last time.”

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that she was just trying to kill me.

She lured me to her home in Wanaka, only to try to do away with me on an empty hiking track.

Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka

No, no. I really love Liz. And I'm actually glad she forced me to the top of that “mountain.” It was something I would have never done on my own, and it allowed her to show me a slice of her new, outdoors-loving life.

Rocky Mountain Track summit

It didn't hurt that the view at the top was great, or that we had the summit completely to ourselves, either. We spent almost 45 minutes up there taking photos and appreciating how damn pretty New Zealand is.

Looking out over Lake Wanaka

Rocky Mountain Track summit

What's that quote about climbing mountains?

“It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”

Rocky Mountain Track

Photo thanks to Liz

I may not have been transformed into a hiker, but I definitely conquered something that day. (Though it might have just been Liz's plot to kill me…)

Rocky Mountain Track summit

Look at that look of glee on her face… probably thinking about throwing me off the top!

All my complaining and hyperbole aside, it's a pretty epic hike — totally doable in a morning or afternoon.

I'm not sure that I would do it AGAIN… but in the end I was glad I was forced slightly out of my comfort (and fitness) zone in order to get to the top.

Rocky Mountain Track summit


If you're even in Wanaka, is this a hike you would tackle?



  • Holy crap those views! I am SO not a hiker either and would need a friend like Liz to push me (literally..) to the top! Congrats 🙂

  • Katie says:

    Beautiful. Will definitely give it a go when I get to Wanaka later this year 🙂

  • Polly says:

    LOL. I admire Liz’s adventures because I know I couldn’t hack it at half of them, so this was such a fun read. I’m glad you made it back in one piece and were able to share your gorgeous photos!

    • Amanda says:

      Haha, yup, I survived! And the rest of the adventures we had in New Zealand were much easier – though still just as epic, so stay tuned!

      • Evelyn says:

        I can share your excitement about being at the summit of that Mountain!!
        I am a 61 and a half year old woman and I am very proud to say that I and three friends, one about my age and two much much younger than me, climbed the Rocky Mountain summit the other day.
        We also did the 4 hour hike of the Rob Roy but this is nothing compared to climbing the top of the Rocky Mountain.
        I haven’t done something like this before and I am glad I did it.
        I must say that these are the highlights of my trip to New Zealand.

  • Holy wow, how gorgeous! C’mon, it was totally worth the blood sweat and tears, right? 😛

    I know what you mean, though, about being so sure you can’t do something and then pushing through it to find that, oh wait, I actually CAN do it! We’re always capable of more than we know 🙂

  • Though I do like standing on the top of the mountains, getting up to the top is another story. I love the sense of accomplishment though once I am there. I’ve done way more intense hikes than the ones in NZ, because luckily the altitude isn’t really the problem here, like in South America for example, and weirdly enough I think the DOC always exaggerates with the amount of time that they say it is going to take to do the treks. Ben Lomond in Queenstown took me 6 hours and the sign said 8 and I consider myself quite slow. I want to do the Istmus Peak in Wanaka, That one is supposed to be really good!

    • Amanda says:

      Yes, Liz says DOC usually over-estimates the times… but it DID take us over 3 hours to do the Rocky Mountain track because I was so slow! Haha. But yes… luckily altitude isn’t an issue in NZ!

  • Renuka says:

    You have reminded me of my hike in Darjeeling! It was around 3-4 hours rainy hike to a lake! But it was relatively easy one, as it was mostly downhill and then we returned from a different path to avoid uphill. But my fellow hikers had a chance to make fun of me, as I had slipped in the beginning of the hike (it was all slippery due to the rains). They kept reminding me to walk carefully and all that! 😀 I LOVE HIKING! And I would definitely like to explore Wanaka! It’s SO beautiful! I guess, once you see such stunning views the breathlessness doesn’t matter anymore, right?

  • Liz says:


    Haha still love me?

  • I loved reading this post about you and Liz trudging away “Oh, actually I don’t remember this part from last time” I love hiking but I’ll stay on the easy path thank you very much. I’ve done the it’s-so-easy-everyone-can-do-it live volcano climb, and it wasn’t funny or easy. I cried a lot but I finally made it!

  • Kay says:

    Well done Amanda! I wouldn’t consider myself very fit at all, and usually find myself wheezing when I attempt a hike. It’s so satisfying when you get to the top though isn’t it? Bet you slept well that night too!

  • Rebekah says:

    thats so funny. I love hiking but I definitely know what its like to be pulled into an adventure that is WAY out of my comfort zone. Like going to clubs, not really my thing, but its fun to do something out of my nature at times. I can’t believe how beautiful New Zealand looks

  • Those views are beautiful! Pinned a photo to remind me for later travels! 🙂

  • Evelina says:

    This post actually makes me want to hike more, haha!
    And I am going crazy happy, seeing these photos, because I’m traveling 18.000 km the day after tomorrow, to NEW ZEALAND!

  • It’s funny how “easy” trails are NEVER actually easy!!!!

  • Katie says:

    Absolutely hilarious! I’ve felt like this a few times, though. Then you get to the top and it’s definitely worth it. Awesome pictures too. BTW – I’m in love with your new social media icons! 😀

  • Megan says:

    Those views are incredible! I’m with you though–I don’t think my body was made for hiking. I did one in the Scottish Highlands with Pete (Hecktic Travels) because he really wanted to go and Dalene, I think, had her fill of hikes. The whole time I was out of breath and red-faced and sweaty, hoping he wouldn’t notice how terribly out of shape I was while I stopped every few minutes to take photos.

    Sounds like you and I are on the same sort of hiking fitness-level. We should plan one (and by that, I mean, a short walk that ends with a wine reward).

  • Becky says:

    Unbelievably gorgeous photos! I’m really outdoorsy, so that looks right up my alley but I applaud you for giving it a chance and pushing through even though it’s not normally your thing. Sure seems like the scenery was worth it 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Yeah the scenery was definitely worth the agony. Haha. We did another hike near Mount Cook (which I haven’t written about yet) that I enjoyed much more. It was flat, but the scenery was even better! Definitely more my speed.

  • Sharon says:

    I love this post. One of my resolutions this year is to hike. “A journey of a thousand miles” and all. I WILL make it to Dragon’s Back. Love your blog and Young Adventurous, too. Happy travels!

  • Sandra says:

    I have just done a couple of day treks recently in Argentina and so recognize myself in this! It is worth it do when you finally reach the goal:) Great pics!

  • Grainne says:

    I loved Wanaka!! Unfortunately when I went to NZ 5 years ago I wasn’t a big hiker (I love it now) and I kick myself everyday for not hiking more while in that insanely beautiful country!

  • Carolina says:

    How cool is it that TWO of my favourite travel bloggers know each other! And travel (at least hike) together!
    This is pretty neat in my book.
    Also, yay, hiking!

    • Amanda says:

      Haha aww, you’re too kind! We do indeed know each other (and get along really well!) – I stayed with Liz for a week in Wanaka and we had some awesome adventures!

  • Love this! I just want to go do this hike right now… so beautiful and tempting. But those stairs looked like a killer.

  • Awesome photos. I know how you felt. My first real hike was 4 miles. I had never been hiking before. My husband loves it so I did it. It was when we first dating. To keep me going he just kept telling me that its worse if you stop. But I did it and it was an awesome feeling.

  • Well done, Amanda 🙂 I’m not really a hiker either, but that rewarding view in Wanaka could very well convince me to try it anyway! Those pictures are INCREDIBLE!

  • Christel says:

    Amanda, you and Liz look like you’re having a blast. So lucky to have a friend you’d trust with that sort of challenge (I have a few) — even knowing she was probably trying to kill you! And those views … Thanks for sharing!

  • NZ Muse says:

    It’s funny, in the past few years suddenly everyone I know has gotten into tramping/hiking! And I guess NZ is a great place for it. I did my longest hike ever this weekend – probably about 6 hours total though with a fair few rest breaks, along the Te Henga trail – so this one definitely sounds doable. But a full day or overnight trails… that’s just not for me. I do wish I had been more interested in hikes back when we did our South Island trip.

    • Amanda says:

      New Zealand IS a great place for hiking! It’s no wonder so many people there love it.

      I’m with you, though – the multi-day treks really don’t appeal to me at all!

  • Hilarious! Sounds like it was (at that time) a really painful hike. But those views are definitely worth it! I’m a city girl but I think I would try and put this on my list the next time I go. And keep chanting to myself that this is possible!

  • I’m going to New Zealand in June and I was wondering what type of jacket you would recommend? I feel like a rain coat would be too light but a snow jacket might be too heavy… eek

    • Amanda says:

      It will be cold (and potentially snowy) in June on the South Island. So a warm jacket is definitely recommended! When I lived in Wellington a few years back in the winter, I took a heavier, wind-proof North Face jacket. A rain jacket will definitely be too light in most places at that time of year!

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