South Island, Canterbury
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A green lining to a potential disaster
This is a fiasco, I thought. We had started out on our three day trek along the Hollyford Track on the southwest side of New Zealand's South Island. The first 12 miles of that rugged, soggy terrain we were subjected to a relentless downpour. “Your boots are going to get wet," said our guide Bard. "And hopping from rock to rock will only get you injured.” Wet, it turned out, was putting it mildly, and I soon learned how liberating it can be to just walk through water up to my ankles. This place was magical. A formidable land of steeply rising, rugged-edged mountains often covered in snow, the track follows the deep valleys through primordial forests of ancient trees. The rain and treacherous footing forced me to look down, and I became enchanted. Each stride I took revealed a different fern (apparently there are 60 or so in the deep valleys of Fiordland National Park), another layer of green, a new composition of plant life. With the rushing river to our left and the hills rising to our right, there were countless falls, some delicate, and fine, others powerful and roaring. Twenty minutes after the rain stopped, Bard told us, most of the falls would be gone. I was glad for the rain. So, apparently, was the bellbird, invisible in the dense foliage, whose joyous song came and went frequently during our trek.
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