After leaving university, this Lake Macquarie yoga and meditation teacher decided to seize all opportunities that came her way. This attitude saw her volunteer overseas for the United Nations and Green Peace, cycle through Southeast Asia for six months and live in the UK. But when she became sick, Hannah Perkins returned to Australia for treatment.
In 2012, after winning her battle with cancer, Hannah wrote a bucket list. It included training to become a yoga teacher, getting married, having a baby and hiking the Routeburn Trail, one of the South Island of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
“I wanted to live in the moment, as I realised, I could die anytime, so I was going to do what I wanted now,” Hannah said.
One opportunity came along when Hannah and her fiancé, Frank Reti, were looking to go on their first holiday together in April 2019. They had decided to go to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania but were disappointed to find that there was no availability, so Hannah suggested they tick off the Routeburn Trail instead.
“It was pretty amazing, as usually, you need to book six to 12 months ahead for accommodation on the Great Walks. And when we looked at two weeks away with flights, accommodation and campervan hire, the price was actually pretty comparable to Tassie.”
The Routeburn Trail is one of the nine NZ Great Walks. An intermediate-graded, three-day trek, it covers 32 kilometres and ascends to 1255 metres above sea level. With soaring peaks, vast valleys and glacial lakes, it links the Mount Aspiring National Park to Fiordland National Park. It is renowned for “spectacular scenery”.
“We caught a boat from Glenorchy, an hour outside Queenstown, to the heritage-style accommodation that has been looking after hikers for more than 150 years. It was so lovely - we ate sturdy British food, sat by the fire, cycled around the lake, relaxed in the hot tub before they gave us lift to the car park to start our walk.”
On the trek, the couple occasionally saw other people, including several families. Though, mostly it was just them and the mountain landscape. The views lived up to their reputation, as they crossed the glacial river, ascended and descended, walked along the ridge and into the moss-draped forests.
“In parts, it was incredibly hard. It brought up lots of emotions, so we would stop for a cup of tea and take in the view, usually of the massive snow-covered mountains. After a couple of deep breaths, I was flooded with wonder and that on ‘top of the world’ feeling. When we finished, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment.”
Hannah has many memorable moments on the track - from reaching the top to being surrounded by the mountains; the Lake Mackenzie Hut vista and the emergence of Lake Harris.
“I also loved the moss-draped forest. It reminded me of the Lord of the Rings, with its different shades of green and the trees intertwined with each other. I felt safe, comfortable and sheltered after being so exposed out on the mountain tops.”
“We were totally blessed. This holiday was momentous for us in so many ways – our first trip, the Routeburn Track and our baby was conceived. I ticked two things off my list,” laughed Hannah.
As for what’s next on Hannah’s bucket list: last month she gave birth to Gabriel; in April the couple will be married then honeymoon in Europe, visiting Frank’s family in Hungary and Hannah’s relatives in England.