I woke up early and packed my tent in the dark and rain and finished the trip to the Milford Sound. The campsite was first come first serve, so I thought I needed to arrive early, but I’ve learned campsites here don’t fill up like they do in California. Even if they are full, people just find a place to park and nobody seems to care. I’ve heard the drive in is beautiful, but it was so dark and rainy, I could barely see anything. After setting up at a camp about an hour from the Milford Sound, I finished the drive in. The clouds hung on the massive mountains that were covered in trees and waterfalls that rose on either side of the road. The rivers, overloaded with rain water, gushed.

Roadside Waterfall

The actual Milford Sound was gorgeous as well, although I knew I could only get a small glimpse from where I was on the docks. The rain finally let up around 1, and I ran into for the third time the same traveler from Moreaki Boulders. He was going on a cruise and I was going on a hike, but he said he would camp at the same spot as me. I made my way to Lake Marian, a three hour round trip hike to a lake high in the mountains. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be, the path was hard to follow, steep, and involved climbing over rocks and through the roots of trees. The hike throught the rainforest was well worth it, as the glacial lake was completely secluded and the same beautiful blue I’ve been seeing at all the lakes here. I’m running out of words to describe just how gorgeous New Zealand is.

River beside Lake Marian Track Lake Marian

After I returned to the campsite it started raining again and wind picked up so we went to a sheltered cooking area where a bunch of campers had gathered to make dinner. Here I got something I’ve been missing this trip. Since I’ve started camping, I’ve only had real conversations with two or three people, and one of those people is Nick who I kept running into. While I like being alone, especially the quiet that allows to enjoy nature, I also love meeting people and hearing their stories. Nick is an organic chemist turned star expert who sailed here from Australia, and was planning to sail to a small island in Asia to start his own star gazing/contemplation business off his boat. I met a Polish couple who planned to run the Milford Track, normally a 4 day Trek, in an estimated 12 hours. Two best friends from Germany told us how their mothers swapped taking care of them every two days when they were growing up. The night was filled with laughter and a colliding of cultures. It’s not that I’ve been lonely, but one of my favorite things about traveling is getting little glimpse of peoples lives from all over the world. It brings out an outgoing side of me that’s normally hidden at home. Perhaps it’s the freedom of knowing that I’ll only be a part of these people’s lives for a day at most, perhaps it’s a magical power only activated by leaving the country.