They said it couldn’t be done. They said it could take several attempts. They said most Kiwi’s never succeed. We said we’re going. We said we gotta try.
And so, a few weeks ago, on a cold and overcast Saturday morning, we hopped in the car and started on our three hour journey to visit the elusive Mt. Cook.
An hour down the east coast through the Canterbury plains. Flat and seemingly endless pastureland. Over the Rakaia river on the longest bridge in the country. Cloudy skies. Finally we turn west towards the mountains and make our way to the Southern Alps. The road winds, we start to climb. Another hour and we enter into the small but quickly growing Lake Tekapo township, home to the Church of the Good Shepherd. The skies are blue and the sun is shining. It’s warm. We stop for lunch and admire the view. Stunning.
Another hour and we wind our way along the banks of Lake Pukaki formed by receding glaciers. We catch a glimpse of the snow capped peaks and speed faster towards our destination, Mt. Cook village. We hope to have time for a hike.
Straight to the visitor center, we obtain a recommendation for an 3 hour hike, up the Hooker Valley where we are told we will be able to see the Hooker Glacier and Mt. Cook. We are not disappointed. Hiking up the valley we have to cross over two swinging bridges
After puffing along for 45 minutes, we finally come into full view of Aoraki, the cloud piercer. Except today there are no clouds. We are blessed with this bit of kiwi magic yet again. We revel in its majesty. The trip has not been futile.
We spend a lovely enough evening at the Mt. Cook YHA backpackers, one of the most highly rated backpackers in the country.
The next morning we rally for another two walks before heading home. The first to see the Tasman Glacier. This glacier (as most all of them) is receding quickly and leaving a big muddy lake in its wake. The things you see floating in the pictures are actually huge pieces of the glacier which have broken off from the glaciers’ terminal morraine. Don’t let the picture fool you, they are huge.
Next, we hike 500+ stairs up 1500 feet on the Red Tarns track named for the tarns which are red due to the presence of a red pond weed found in the water. I’m not quite sure what tarns are; the pond was not impressive, but the view surely was. Perched high over Mt. Cook Village, we were afforded an amazing view of the entire valley (sorry, no picture).
Finally, it’s time to go. We stop at the bakery in Lake Tekapo for another baked treat and another view of the Lake and Church. We happen to patronize the bakery shortly before closing and as we’re sitting enjoying our yummies, the staff offer us a tray of freebies including muffins and pizza to take home. I love New Zealand.