The fjords of New Zealand


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- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


A quick plug for a travel story I wrote that ran in yesterday’s New York Times travel section, about a trip Lauren and I took in Fiordland, New Zealand:

SLOWLY but surely, our ship was shrinking.

We were trolling down the middle of a New Zealand fjord, and the captain had asked us to pick a point on one of the towering cliff walls beside us that we believed to be about mast-height. But as we edged closer to shore, perspective morphed, and the point I’d chosen was suddenly three mast-lengths above us.

When we were almost close enough to touch the scale-distorting walls, the captain switched off the engine. A heavy silence fell, lifting gradually to reveal bird calls in the distance, and the faint babble of countless tiny waterfalls trickling off ledges hundreds of feet above us, tripping down slopes blanketed with moss and ferns.

We were in Fiordland, in New Zealand’s southwest corner, a tract of near-virgin wilderness the size of Connecticut with a permanent population — according to the most recent census — of 18. Amply stocked with snowy peaks, alpine lakes and primeval forests, this massive World Heritage Area is most celebrated for the 14 fjords that slash into its coastline, carved by glaciers from erosion-proof granite more than 10,000 years ago… [READ THE REST OF THE STORY]

It was an interesting trip. We went for a four-day hike, and for an overnight cruise on an awesome fjord (as you’ll see if you read the piece!). As die-hard hikers, we expected to love the hike, but we were skeptical about the cruise, since we don’t really like being crammed into small spaces with lots of other people. In the end, the opposite happened: the hike was good, but the cruise was incredible. I’ve never seen anything remotely like the fjord we visited, and kayaking on its surface was mind-blowing. I wish my photography was better able to capture it!


P.S. I guess this post doesn’t really have anything to do with exercise research. But right after we disembarked from the cruise, Lauren and I went for a short run on a gravel path through a forest. On the way back, I tripped over a root and supermanned along the gravel, scraping my whole body (even through my clothes) and cutting a big gash in my chin. So the moral of the story is: don’t run right after a cruise, when you still have “sea legs” (that’s what I’m blaming it on!).