Bridget Oliver, Miami Alumna is currently one of the Assistant Directors for the Outdoor Pursuit Center. She attended the New Zealand OPC trip during her time here and answered a couple of questions for us explaining her amazing experience.
What was a day like?
Days were different depending on if we were in the front country or backcountry. The front country was typically, wake-up, breakfast at the hostel or bakery in town, and then exploring the town. Specifically, in Queenstown, we had a chance to do some high adventure activities since it is a mecca for that (skydiving, canyon swing, paragliding, bungee jumping, etc.) Some of our front country days were spent driving through the beautiful countryside to new towns and then prepping for the next backcountry trip. A typical backcountry day would be: Wake up, breakfast at the hut, hike/climb/kayak and explore until we get to a lunch break or the next hut. We typically had some time to explore around the hut before and after dinner sometimes including time in natural hot springs.
What’s the thing you liked the most about the trip? I loved that we got to experience so much of an amazing country. We spent just enough time in each place (well maybe not enough…I definitely want to go back!) and moved around so much that I know I got to see and enjoy way more than if I had tried to plan and complete a trip on my own.
What was your favorite place? The Angelus Hut for sure!! It was an amazing, challenging, and fulfilling hike in. The hike from the previous hut took us above the clouds (and a small airplane that flew by) and along a ridge of the mountain for an exhilarating feeling. It was a long day, and I just felt so accomplished to make it to the hut. The Angelus Hut was big enough that our entire group (which normally had to split in 2) was able to be together. It was our last hike of the trip and we had bonded so much that it was so nice to be able to share the time altogether. The amazing view didn’t hurt either. The lake right outside the hut was so blue and calm and some of the purest, most delicious water we’d ever tasted. I remember waking up to a gorgeous sunrise right out our bunk room window too. My friend shook me awake thinking he was seeing the Southern Lights it was so vibrant and beautiful. Everything about getting to and the time we got to spend at that hut was perfect and definitely my favorite place of the trip.
Why would you recommend students to go on this trip? Why wouldn’t I recommend this trip?! To me, it is the perfect study abroad opportunity!
1. You get a chance to visit a country many people only ever dream about.
2. You get to experience so much of the country.
3. You get to be outside and enjoy the true beauty of the country in a way that many citizens of the country don’t even get out to do.
4. You learn so much about yourself from your leadership skills and style to how
you handle good and bad situations in and out of nature. The journal I kept is still so important to me, to be able to look back at the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey I had. It’s powerful to be able to learn naturally, and that’s what this course allows you to do. The fact that I got to earn 3 of my college credits on this trip still blows my mind! This trip helped to steer me into my chosen career path, so I may be a bit bias, but I would say that this trip is a powerful development tool that people would be crazy to turn down (especially if you like being active in the outdoors and traveling even a little).