To mount cook and take a poo

Trip Start Jan 24, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

You can't imagine anything competing with the size a depth of Milford Sound (fjord actually) and indeed its a sight unlike any other, but leaving there and heading back to Queenstown we decided to avoid the coast and go up instead to mount cook and lake tekapo. As the road snaked up top the mountains we levelled out onto an area of plains, vast empty grassy plains (where they shot the big battle scenes from LOTR) with strange cliff formations.
Mount cook is the highest mountain in NZ at 3754m and is situated at the end of a long wide valley. yet again a totally new scenery to absorb with wide valley floor (glacial not riverine) and white starcehd pebbles. At the head of the valley the mountains roase into the clouds with huge glaciers running down the glacial valleys (over 3000 glaciers in NZ) ending with large lakes and floating icebergs. We hiked up the valley to a beautiful lake with views up to Aoraki (mt Cook) which was shrouded in a cloud hat, the steep scree walls descending into the icy water. We found out that in fact the ground (fully vegetated) on which we stood had in fact 25 m of ice still formed beneath it from the orginal glacier (now retreated to the head of the lake. The scenery was stunning and as we visited another glacier (the largest called the Tasman Glacier running down from nearby mt Tasman-3497m-) we were met by more icebergs, lakes and wide glacial plains. It was just like the scenes of Helms deep in LOTR-ace!
From there it was down to Lake tekapo (humorously renamed lake take-a-poo by ourselves) for an overnighter then a wee wander up by the observatory in the morning (interestingly the skies over tekapo are supposed to be of the clearest in the southern hemisphere- except when cloudy) before a mammoth drive across the flats of canterbury to arrive at a lovely campsite (complete with showers) where the rooms were made of railway carriages and the kitchen was the old station house- very cute.
The next day was up to hanmer springs: totally tourist. From the prefab hot springs with sanitised pools to the 150 campervans parked up and down the street, from the numerous campsites to the 5 crazy golf sites it just screamed 'i'm a tourist let me in there'! We had a lovely dip in the eggy-fart springs (hydrogen sulphide i'm reliably informed), which only got to a disappointing 41 degrees C, but lasted just 1.5hrs, then filled our exciting tour schedule with washing and coffee. From hanmer it was a rubbish drive back to Hokitika through heavy rain and awful twisting roads- really appreciated the hot log fire and warm bed at Dave+Heather's!
It really was the most amazing trip for us to take filled with arguably the worlds finest diverse scenery- you can't reaqlly put it all into words so you're probably best to just pay the money, get a combi, and see it for yourself!
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