Atop of The World... Christmas upon a Mountaintop

Ben Lomond, an awesome 1438m climb to the top.

Ben Lomond, an awesome 1438m climb to the top.

Christmas Down Under has always felt a little strange. For me, growing up in the North of the UK, this holiday has always seemed to be centred around cosy evenings in, spending quality time with the family, overeating good food, and hibernating from the chill… and watching too many movies.

In the southern hemisphere however, the height of summer scorches the grass brown, allergies are rife as the bees work their little asses off for the blossoming flowers, and family are a long way away.

This makes for a somewhat different Christmas Day. One to get creative with. One to enjoy in a whole different way. And who better than to get creative with than my lady Tara?

Tara, a little sweaty, with her daisy.

Tara, a little sweaty, with her daisy.

Here in New Zealand, surrounded by the mountains of Queenstown, we thought what better to do on Jesus’s birthday than to conquer the biggest mountain in town? Tara agreed, so set off we did. Ben Lomond in our sights!

View from the Tiki Trail.

View from the Tiki Trail.

The walk begins with the Tiki Trail, a steep (I love a good climb) uphill accent to the Skyline gondola, where we enjoy a quick breather, before strolling away from the crowds and towards the mountaintop.

Tara hiking Ben Lomond in her socks. Mad, and driven.

Tara hiking Ben Lomond in her socks. Mad, and driven.

Tara in her hi-tech footwear.

Tara in her hi-tech footwear.

About 2hrs into the walk, Tara’s blisters were slowing her down enough to ditch the borrowed-boots altogether, and reach the summit in nothing but her socks. She might have been slightly off my long-legged pace, but goddamn she was driven.

The view North down the Moonlight trail

The view North down the Moonlight trail

The sun was baking down upon us as the middle of the day neared. The nearest shade was 1000m below us, but the other hikers descending gave us “Merry Christmas”’s, high fives, and encouragement with optimistic timeframes.

Eventually, we reached the summit, and wow. The view from the top is simply spectacular.

The view from Ben Lomond, Queenstown

The view from Ben Lomond, Queenstown

We spoke to family, and skype them to show off our viewpoint, enjoyed a Christmas lunch of Avo on toast, shared a few gifts, and cursed a few sandflies. A little fact from French speaking Tara; le monde means “the world”, so we were quite literally on top of the world…

Tara and myself on top of the world, Christmas Day.

Tara and myself on top of the world, Christmas Day.

The dip in the lake when we reached the bottom was the most delightful way to seal the day, before a delicious vegan Christmas dinner sunk us deep into the sofa.

Love and gifts beneath our tree.

Love and gifts beneath our tree.