A meeting with mighty Mount Cook

Trip Start Jun 04, 2005
Trip End Apr 05, 2006

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

On Sunday morning, 30 October, we drove the 25km or so from our camp at to go and meet NZ´s highest mountain, the mighty Mount Cook (or Aoraki by its Maori name), in person. No, we weren´t planning on summiting, but walked a two-hour trail up the Hooker Valley, from where our guidebook promised a good view of the mountain.

The drive to Mount Cook Village and the start of the Hooker Valley walk was an experience in itself. The road wound its way into the mountains along the shores of Lake Pukaki, a huge expanse of turquoise glacial water. As we neared the head of the lake, the distinctive shape of Mount Cook loomed into view and we excitedly hopped out to take piccies. It got even better as we started our walk up the Hooker Valley track - the clouds lifted and the massive, triangular, sparkling ice-blue peak looked near enough to touch.

All along the trail grew stands of the fragrant white mountain buttercup, or 'Mount Cook lily', an endemic to the area. Several times in the course of the walk we would hear rumbling and thundering sounds - the crash of avalanches on the snowy slopes around us. Rich was desperate to film an avalanche ´in action´, so we´d stop in our tracks and scan the slopes whenever we heard the tell-tale noises.

Several glaciers push their way down the slopes of Mount Cook and neighbouring peaks; small murky lakes with floating icebergs form at their base. The walk led us to the shores of the Hooker Valley glacial lake, where we had lunch. It really was the most incredible four-hour excursion.

In the afternoon we stopped on the shores of turquoise-coloured Lake Pukaki for some fishing. Rich hooked a couple of small trout which we decided not to keep. We also tried our luck in the lake where we were camping, to no avail. But hey, it´s still fun to cast a line and take in the scenery!

The next morning, on Monday, we packed up and took a leisurely drive back to Christchurch, stopping off here and there along the way. We arrived back at base - Mike and Katie´s home - in the mid-afternoon, where we sorted our gear and did some laundry. So our tour of the South Island in Goldie, Mike´s marvellous gold Honda Prelude, came to an end and we said a sad goodbye to her. In the evening, the four of us had yet another cosy dinner and plenty of wine together...we tumbled into bed well after 1am, but Rich decided not to go to bed at all! Instead he stayed up, sorting and burning photos to CD.

At 8am on Tuesday morning, we said farewell to our friends and headed to the airport to catch our flight to Auckland.
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