Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Walk In the Park

As I may have mentioned before, we are about to become empty nesters…In early Feb, our youngest is going to university in the South Island, along with his brother, leaving myself and hubby to start a new chapter in our lives.

I anticipated that we would be feeling a little off-kilter when the boys are gone, so suggested we give ourselves a challenge in the form of a four day hike called The Milford Track. It advertises itself as ‘the finest walk in the world’ and is one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ at 53.5km long (one way).

This is a long way. Now, I’m reasonably fit but am aware that I need to build up to this, so last week hubby and I undertook a couple days ‘tramping’ / hiking /rambling in the Tongariro National Park. The aim was to to see just how much training we need to do for this four day-er…and whether we would actually be fit enough to enjoy the experience!

So we headed down to the National Park ( a 5 hour drive) and watched the clouds form and the weather deteriorate the closer we got to the mountains…

We had planned to do the Tongariro Crossing on Tuesday and then a shorter walk on Wednesday, but the weather gods had different plans. When a gale force wind was forecast all shuttle buses to and from the start of the Crossing were cancelled, so we had to switch round, which meant the shorter walk came first. It was still 17km… but took us through amazing scenery in this alpine area.

Beautiful waterfall with fresh alpine water
New Zealand has amazing brightly coloured lakes due to sulphur and other chemicals that colour the water

IMG_2435 IMG_2452

It was literally freezing (around about 0 degrees celsius) but so beautiful. And, as with all great hikes there was way, way more UP than there was down…or that’s how it seemed. What a feeling, though, when we arrived back at the hotel, tired and aching, but we’d done it! 17km!

And had to do it all again tomorrow, plus a little more… we asked around and the weather forecast was still pretty doubtful. There were 50kph winds at the top of the trek and rain was imminent…we were told to phone again early the next morning. (And I did wonder about just how much effort we were putting in to doing something that was inevitably going to be hard!!)

The next morning we were lucky. There was one van going up at 7am and and one at 8am and there were places on both. (In fact, there were lots of places on the 8am one- being as we were the only ones on it!) So, with a little trepidation on my part we set off.

Rain dominated the first part of the walk…well, we were high up in the clouds already.IMG_2482

And, fortuitously, because the forecast had been so awful, what was usually a very busy walk was a very quiet one. Once we got above the clouds the sun came out and the view was breathtaking. Lucky us!

IMG_2490 IMG_2494

We climbed and climbed and climbed…if there are any eagle-eyed Lord Of The Rings fans reading, yes, that is Mt Doom with a whisp of cloud.

Mt Doom
Mt Doom

At the top is the Red Crater…still very much an active volcano…you don’t want to hang around too long, just in case…(oh, and the fact it is -10 degrees C wind chill…)IMG_2250


Once we got to the top we took a moment to look around and breathe in the view…IMG_2254


I thought the UP bit was hard, but the down was treacherous! The snow gave way to shale and sand that made you lose your footing, and slipping and sliding was the only way to go. But it was great fun and we managed the down a lot faster than the up!


Then the path became a lot more stable and we followed it through wide open country, dropping down into bush, then finally- to the shuttle car park,19.4kms later… and in 6 hours! (The average time is 7-9 hours!!)


By the time we got back to the hotel we were stiffening up and a celebratory beer was called for. All in all a good couple days’ work. And we learnt that yes, we need to do quite a bit more training- but, in actual fact, that’s the fun bit!

Have you ever set yourself a physical challenge? If so, what was it, and was the best bit about it? (Plus, any tips on empty nesting?)


18 thoughts on “A Walk In the Park”

  1. Louisa, fab pics! You had challenging weather for sure. DH and I did the Milford Track one Christmas before we had kids. Was awesome! As for empty nesting, well, I have had periods of it (2013) and then they bounce back and get in the way 😉 2017 it will start again for real with both boys (hopefully both) off at uni and I will be asking you for tips.

    1. The weather was challenging, but very atmospheric! I’ve heard about the kids never completely leaving home- that’s fine by me!! In the meantime, we’re thinking of interesting and challenging (and cheap- 2 kids at uni costs a lot!) things to do without them!

  2. I would have died at this stage in my life doing your walk. Thank you for such gorgeous photos! Yes, I am a content armchair traveler. LOL. I do know something about empty nests, though. I discovered I could write a lot more books once my youngest left home at 18 to join the US Army. Daughter was already away at college. It never gets easy, but you can put your time to great use delighting us with more books. 🙂 Good for you for being an adventurer!

    1. Ha- it’s funny you should say that about getting more writing done, Lynne- it’s 9.46 in the evening and I’m still at it. Currently the house is empty but for me…tap, tap tapping on the keyboard.
      You’d have been fine on the walk- it’s hard work but manageable! Besides, you are an adventurer- you had an awesome and intrepid journey yourself last month!! XXXX

  3. Louisa,
    Have you thought about 2 days at a spa as a way to settle into being empty nesters?

    I trained hard for the 3Day Breast Walk one year. I walked miles and miles each day. Working up to 16 a day. It still wasn’t an easy walk when the time came for the event but it was for a good cause. What backwards some. It trains your brain and also used different muscles. Helps with balance also.

    1. 2 days at a spa!!???! Now you’re talking my language, Susan!! I’m interested in the walk backwards idea (better practice in the safety of my own garden!)- I can see how that would develop different muscles and proprioception! Thanks for the tip!

  4. Wow, Louisa! Amazing pics! I would love to do a challenge like that, but I have no-one to do it with me. My hubs is not a great fan of walking. Can’t give advice on empty nest syndrome yet. My four are all still nestled in quite firmly. The only physical challenge I ever set myself was a Treetop Trek, forty feet above ground doing a obstacle course. I froze halfway and the rather handsome Ranger, Tom, had to come to my rescue and wrap his arms around me so that I felt safe to move again (that’s what I told everyone anyway!*wink) and I completed it feeling full of adrenaline! Great feeling. And yes, I am talking about the challenge and not Tom!

  5. Wow, Louisa, what an adventure! So impressive you accomplished that, and your photos are breathtaking!

    We took our kids a few years ago (then ages 11, 15 and 17) to Yosemite National Park in Northern California, and hired a guide to take us up one of the mountains to a campground, staying overnight in tents that the guide, my husband, and oldest son carried. I thought maybe my youngest’s energy would peter out, but he easily kept up with his older siblings, with their father trailing and me the clear weak link of the group even farther back, despite having the lightest pack. 🙂 Our guide was this adorable young man who climbs the sheer granite cliffs there (and elsewhere), sleeping in a suspension hammock on the side of the mountain as he goes for about 8 days, if you can imagine! He was so sweet, often staying back with me, and encouraging me with the words “It’s just a little more up.” Which was a lie – it was a lot more ‘up’! But we’ve often repeated that phrase on various hikes since then 🙂 I haven’t done anything as big as your adventure, and I’m certain I’d have to train a lot for it!

    1. Wow, camping out in Yosemite has got to be put on my bucket list!! (Although, I imagine I’d be at the back too!!) Not sure I like the idea of sleeping in a suspension hammock (and how/where do you pee??)

  6. Oh, Louisa, your photos and comments take me back to my teens when I did that hike with the Auckland Tramping club. Did it on a school trip too. The view from the top is stunning. Know what you mean by coming down being the harder. Definitely tricky.
    My biggest challenge was the Rainbow Rage which is a mountain bike race of 105kms over a smallish (seemed darned high at the time) mountain. I was fifty and decided I needed a challenge. I’d never done anything like it and it was fabulous – once I reached the end and had that cold beer the organisers gave me in my hand. It took me 7 hours 25mins. Two years later (yeah, slow learner) I did it again, this time in 6 hours 35 mins.

      1. Hey, that Tongariro Crossing is damned hard. Even in my teens it was hard yakker and I remember slipping often on the way down. Go you.

  7. BeeeeeUUUUUtiful photos! Gorgeous. You should work for the NZ tourist board. I want to come! My pickle is, I like walking if my dogs can come, but they’re getting a bit geriatric now. Maybe I need to be like Sue and get on my bike again! I once did a 700km trip across Cambodia (with someone else carrying the luggage) and it was probably one of the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. Fantastic. Enjoy your adventure!

  8. I need to set myself a physical challenge… if only I wasn’t so damn lazy….Susan’s spa idea is much more my style sadly.
    At the moment I’d settle for motivating myself just to go for a walk down the street :-/

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