Mount Cook ......we're coming to get you!!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, October 3, 2010

After waking up in such a beautiful spot this morning, we had a lovely breakfast of tea and toast down on the lake surrounded by the mountains. I think we could have been eating any old rubbish, but when you are in such an amazing place anything feels like the best breakfast you have ever eaten! We headed down to Wanaka town and had a quick look around. Like every other town we have visited so far, it was tiny with just a couple of shops and a small supermarket. Today was the first lovely warm sunny day we have had in ages so we made to most of it by sitting on the quay with the locals drinking tea and enjoying the sunshine. From Wanaka we had two choices of where we could go next: Queenstown or Mount Cook Village. Queenstown is where Tom has got a bungee jump waiting for him so understandably he was quite keen to get down there. We had already decided that we wanted to go to Mount Cook Village but we knew that getting there wasn't going to be easy. Even though it was only a couple of kilometers from Franz Josef Glacier there is no way to cut through the mountains, so you have to either double back on yourself from the south coast or west coast. Either way it is a whole days drive to get back to the place that were pretty close to in the first place. Deliberating what to do while we sat in sunshine, we decided that as there wasn't a cloud in the sky the weather was too good to miss not seeing Mount Cook. Considering that everytime we have tried to see it so far it has been either raining or cloudy we knew that we had to take our chance to see it while it was stil sunny. I had also seen an activity which I wanted to do in that area which needed good weather, so we packed up the campervan and off we went. It took about two and a half hours of doubling back on ourselves to get to the Mount Cook Village, but boy was it worth it! As we turned off the main highway and onto the long entry road we could see the Southern Alps looming in the distance, perfectly white with their covering of snow and reflecting the sunlight all around the valley. The valley leading up to the village was a bit of a surprise, it was like being on Route 66 in Mid-West America! The road was very long and straight with no trees around it, just scrub-land. We got some great photos on the way up to the mountains as we could finally see the whole of the Southern Alps!! It was difficult to know which one was Mount Cook because there is a collection of about five very very big mountains which surround it and Mount Cook itself is only a couple of hundred meters taller than them. Which means that when you are driving towards them you can't immediately tell which one is the biggest. The Mount Cook Village is tucked away in a little corner of the mountain basin in front of the peak iself. Because it is part of a National Park the village is very heavily controlled in terms of what can be built there and at the moment there is one hotel, a tourist info centre, some ski lodges and the Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre... and that's it. The village itself feels like a Disney Ski Town because everything is laid out in little quaint streets with lovely manicured lawns and signs everywhere saying 'Staff Only'. We stayed in town for a little while and then chipped out to the DoC camp down the road. The camp itself was even closer to the mountains and right underneath the huge Mount Sefton, which was bearing down on us with its snowy peaks. We were so happy to have finally got to see the Southern Alps and Mount Cook, even if we still weren't 100% certain which one it was!! We were pretty sure we had identified Mount Cook properly, but to be on the safe side we took photos of every surrounding mountain just to be sure! It was still a beautiful day and the sun was shining long into the evening with not a cloud in sight, however when the sun went down it really turned cold!! Camping just a couple of hundred meters from New Zealand's biggest mountain was fantastic, but bloody freezing!!   
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