Not Your Typical Summer Vacation
Emma St. Aubin
alecAndErica.jpgThis summer was a scorcher that may have left some of us flee­ing to some colder weather. While most of us were cranking up the air conditioning or hose-filling a kiddy pool, two University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point students spent those days stranded in the wilderness of New Zealand for nine days due to a snowstorm.

Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth traveled to New Zealand through the study abroad program at UWSP, and once the end of the semester rolled around, the couple made plans to leisurely backpack for four days through Arthur’s Pass, a national park that includes the highest peak in the Southern Alps. There, the two would relax and begin to prepare for their finals, which were just over a week away.

Klintworth, an art major, chose to study abroad in New Zealand to enjoy the nature and landscape of the country while backpacking and outdoor adventuring.

Brown, an aspiring land man­ager for recreation and education purposes, chose to study abroad in New Zealand for the adventure. Turns out, they got exactly what they had hoped for.

​“I wanted to take one last trip to the mountains before I came back to America and it seemed like a great time to do so,” Klintworth said.

​Photos courtesy of Erica Klintworth​​
After traveling through the mountains for three days, a massive snowstorm erupted, delaying their return to town.

“Initially, we didn’t realize the storm hit because we were camping in a heavily forested area and the snow did not make it through the tree cover,” Klintworth said.

With uncertainty of the bliz­zard’s possible duration, worries of escaping the mountains had crossed their minds when they first encoun­tered the storm. However, the cou­ple rationed their food and kept warm in the hot springs as they waited for the storm to pass.

“Trying to walk out would have been fatal, so we enjoyed the worst snowstorm that part of the country had in 50 years inside warm and comfortable hot springs,” Brown said.

After five days of fasting and waiting, the weather cleared up enough for the two to pack up, eat some food, and promptly hike their way out of the mountains.

“It was about an hour into our hike that we heard a helicopter. We thought they might be looking for us, but we were under dense tree cover and there was no way we could get their attention,” Klintworth said.

The helicopter continued to search the mountains as the two continued to hike the final eight miles to the end of the trail.

“When we got to the road, we met up with the search and rescue team and were taken in for ques­tioning at the police station. We did not realize how much of a big deal everything was until we talked to them at the road,” Klintworth said.

While the two admit to wish­ing they were more prepared, Klintworth and Brown left New Zealand with pride and confidence having survived the blizzard on their own.

“Overall, it was an amazing experience to meet people with a different world view. It opened my eyes to so much more than anyone who has been in Wisconsin or even America their whole lives could understand,” Brown said.