‘Journey to Mt.Cook…’

Trip Start Jul 18, 2010
Trip End Mar 04, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We awoke for a 10a.m. departure from the site.  The weather is awful today, you can feel the moisture hit your skin as you walk.  We’re heading up North today, back past Queenstown and on to Mt.Cook… I hope the weather improves else it’ll be an awful journey.  As we come away from Lake Te Anau, we hit the most beautiful sunshine peaking through the mists.  Our only aim for today is to reach Mt.Cook, so Jenny and I are having a ‘photo-day’.  We stop for countless photographs of misty hills set against sharp foregrounds, they seem surreally dream-like and untrue.  On the road again and we meet Helen and Mam at Five Rivers café for a quick bite to eat and a coffee.  The soup of the day is still the same!  Back on the road again and our next meeting point is Queenstown, or there abouts, for lunch.  It’s funny,  we’re going back through the same countryside we’ve already seen, but in reverse.  So Jenny and I can’t help but stop for photographs of scenery that changes as soon as you turn a corner.  The sky is the bluest I’ve ever seen today.  Like a holiday brochure.  We hit lake Kingston and are so stricken with awe that we pull over for photographs of the most glistening water.  Again fairly dream like.  It’s like driving through a poster.  We get a good spot to stop at down by the lakeside and have perfect shots of the bluest lagoon.  I can only describe it as a tropical lagoon, it’s the blue/green waters, but offset by rocky, snow capped hills.  The scenery is like a backdrop, I’m just amazed that a place so stunning exists, that those posters aren’t made on Photoshop!  Back along the road we are slowed by a NZ-traffic jam, aka sheep. After Jenny nearly takes out a cute little lamb, we turn a corner to see yet more tropical views… it’s amazing.  To have a shot were palms, blue waters glistening with sun, rocky hills and snow exist together is just incredible.  As we hit Queenstown we arrange to meet further out and avoid getting the Camper down the tourist-packed streets.  Driving out and Jenny and I stop at exactly the same lake as we did the other day! The mirror image of the surrounding hills seems so much clearer today, the trees are still in the way though…  We stop for lunch at Goldfields café.  It’s really sweet here, although we have to cross a planked bridge high above the river.  After lunch I have to nip back to the van and am incredibly aware that I am carrying the van keys and my passport on the way back, images of them both floating down the river filling my head!!  Fang finally gets a photo op after being stuck in the van for the past few days.  We get some great soup at the café, and I get a really needed phone call in to work courtesy of my China phone card.  After no contact re accommodation for Kowloon, I was getting a bit worried.  But this phone call sorts everything out, an e-mail failure. How frustrating.  Especially when I discover that they had arranged for me to stay in central HK in the director’s apartment for the first 4 days! Oh well, Kowloon will be fun and I have some people to meet with.  After arranging our next meet point of Omarama we set off.  Jenny and I stop at, yes, more lakes… but blimey, the sun is in such a position today and the waters so choppy that it leaves a vertical scatter of glitter across the lake.  I love this place, some sort of comment about this being a great day to be alive… it’s all very corny.  We hit more table top mountains, but some have ridges, very interesting but hard to capture with a camera that prefers it’s subjects 2m away.  Along lake Dunstan, now shot 4 times,  I see a dark branch peeking out of the water with at least 10 birds neatly silhouetted against the lake on top.  Jenny and I manage to sneak to the waters edge for a few shots before they all fly across to the other side.  Down the road, and past the water we see a strange sight.  A huge man and motorbike formed from what I can only assume is old vehicle parts, erect in a field.  Bizarre, but photo a photo op for sure.  Especially against the rocky mountains backdrop, what an intriguing sight.  We are now hitting entirely new ground through Lindis Valley.  The scenery has changed almost completely again.  It’s like the wild west in places… but then every now and again, a velvety snow-topped mountain range will appear against the sparse countryside.  Tarras is one site that takes our breath away.  Up the road we are forced to pull over again for diverse-landscape like you could never imagine, and my camera never capture. I NEED a panoramic!  We roll on and hit yet further changing scenery, now soft draped mountains and flat tussock-strewn foreground.  Before long we find ourselves in Lindis pass… the setting for unbelievable moutntains, and a road that must be set up to create the wow-factor when you turn a corner.  The mountains grow and grow and we know we’re getting closer to Mt.Cook.  Sunset mode works wonders as the sun lays low in the sky, and captures some interesting rock formations on the distant hills.  After having no signal for hours, we manage to meet with Helen and Mam for a quick drink and decide to get back on the road before the sun sets.  We’re now on our last leg, aiming up the left side of Lake Pukaki to a campsite just below Mt.Cook.  Directing Jenny, I even gasp at the contours on the map of the ranges!  It’s so vast, with little roads, it’s amazing to see such a huge area of land with no evidence of mankind.  There are quite allot of glaciers here, we’re hoping to drive up to one tomorrow, fairly close to the lake.  We are a little behind the girls after stopping a few times, but, my goodness I can’t even describe this to it’s full impact, but the moon is rising from behind the pink-sky lined hills. It’s full and the brightest shade of yellow I’ve ever seen. And SO big! Like really big, enormous in fact!  It’s just so close.  I felt like I must have been in space to be so close.  We turn off at the nearest opportunity and nearly hit Helen and Mam who have done exactly the same as us!  The sky is ever changing as the moon rises, turning purple then a soft blue, to deep.  Nature is so incredible in it’s show.  Back on the road and we hit the basin of the valley and have to stop again.  This is immense.  The 360 degrees of what surrounds us now is all incredible.  The sun at one side sets behind the hills, making them almost black.  In the distance sits Mount Cook, turning pink at it’s tip with reflective light.  The other side of the valley has a pallette of pastels, with the lamp-like moon rising quickly.  I can’t capture it though, no camera ever could.  It’s just amazing.  The Mt.Cook range is now our destination as the crow flies.  And the sunset has been a great way to see it for the first time.  As we drive past Lake Pukaki, the moon shines across, as the sun did earlier today, in a perfect vertical line.  What an amazing opportunity to have both in the same day.  We find our very sparse camp ground by the freezing cold lake. And set up for the night.  We’re all wiped, the sightseeing we’ve done today has been surprisingly tiring and hard to compute.  Tomorrow, it’s a wee tour around the local area, then back to Rakaia after stealing Jenny for nearly a whole week.  It’ll be lovely to be back with the family, but hard not to express how much fun we’ve had whilst they’ve been toiling away on the farm.

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