Relaxing in Mount Cook

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I left Queenstown the next day, and hopped on the bus to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The drive was beautiful. We drove through some amazing landscape with mountains everywhere. On the way we stopped at the stunning Lake Tekapo. It a huge sparkling blue lake, with the sun shining over it. Behind it we could see Mount Cook and the other mountains. After taking some photos and generally just appreciating how beautiful it was, we jumped back on the bus, and finally made our way into the park. We stopped again in a valley where we could see all the mountains. I was actually so enthralled with how beautiful it was. (I'm desperately trying to think some words that aren't beautiful/amazing/stunning/gorgeous to describe, but it's very hard!)
We got into the park, and arrived at our accommodation. I couldn't believe where we were staying.The hostel (more like a hotel) gave us 4 bed en-suite rooms, with balconies looking out to the mountains. Talk about a room with a view! After quickly unpacking our stuff, we took advantage of the good weather and went off to walk the Hooker Valley Track. It was a lovely easy 4 hour walk through the valley, crossing over 2 big swing bridges (which wobbled and bounced quite a lot!). We had fantastic views of Mount Cook and the other snow covered peaks. When we finally got to the end of the valley, we were pretty cold as it had gotten quite windy, but we were rewarded with getting to the edge of Hooker Lake, which was filled with these cool ice burgs, which had broken off from Hooker Glacier. You could see the face of the glacier in the distance, below Mount Cook, which was resplendent in the sunshine. With so many geographical features, I was incredibly excited! 

Then we quickly made our way back through the valley before we froze to death. Back at the hostel I was reunited with some of my friends from my old bus, which was really nice, and we had a good catch up. Then the next morning the bus left, but I stayed behind. I had some extra days to chill out before going back to Auckland to catch my flight, so I thought I might as well spend them somewhere nice like Mount Cook! I had my first lie in for ages that morning, then decided to head out for another walk as the weather was so good. There are a number of walks you can do in Aoraki, but they are short and relatively easy. Everything else is best left to the experienced climbers and mountaineers!

I did part of the longest walk you can do in the park. I climbed the mountainside up to Sealy Tarns. The climb was really hard. It was just endless steps, I thought they'd never end! At the beginning of the stairs, someone had written in stones "1800 steps to go!". Fantastic, I thought. I hate steps. As I was making my way up the slope before the steps started, a huge fat rabbit bombed down the path right towards me. About a metre in front of me, it looked up, saw me, and jumped into the bushes off the side of the path. A bit odd I thought, but carried on walking. Then 2 seconds later a stoat came pelting down the path as well. It almost ran into me too, and then jumped off the path, but the opposite side. That rabbit was lucky I was there, I probably stopped it from getting eaten! 

Anyway, after a mammoth climb up these steps, I finally reached the top, and the views were definitely worth it. I was right next to the mountains, and could also see the lake. It was a beauitful place, and so quiet. I sat at had my lunch at the picnic table they have there, and just took in the view. I could have stayed there all day, but it was pretty cold, and I wanted to get back before it got dark, so started my descent. My legs were so glad to be going downhill! I ended up running down the steps (which was a little dangerous, as they're pretty steep, with sheer drops in some places!) but I was so eager to get down, I was quite happy to let gravity help me!

When I got back to the hostel, I had the whole room to myself, and seemed to be the only Stray person left there. So I took a nice long bath, and just spent the evening reading on the balcony, watching the sun set over the mountains.  I woke up early the next morning to watch the sun rise, which it did specturlarly, with beautiful pink clouds. But we all know the saying, "Red cloud at night, shepherd's delight. Red cloud in the morning, shepherd's warning!". And it was true, the weather then took a turn for the worse. It wasn't too bad that day, mainly cloudy and dark with a bit of rain, but on my last day it bucketed down. However, I still attempted anoither short walk round the native forest they have there, but it wasn't too enjoyable, as I was got completely soaked! So I mainly spent those 2 days just chilling, and getting stuff sorted for the last part of my journey. I gained a couple of room mates which was nice, and I had been feeling a little lonely. One was a lovely South African lady, who had moved to New Zealand some years ago. She was telling me how her husband is descended from the first whites to settle in South africa, really interesting. 

And that was the extent of my time in Mount Cook. Mainly a nice few days to catch up on sleep, and have a bit of a break from the bus. I think it did me a lot of good, and I felt quite refreshed when I left. I was sad to leave such a beautiful place though, I could have sat on the balcony forever!
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