After the sublime views and walking around Lake Tekapo I was under the impression that Mt. Cook, surely, could not top it. Lake Tekapo was perfection.
Boy was I in for a surprise.
So the day started as planned. We wandered to the local supermarket in Lake Tekapo to stock up on our food. We’d done our research about each stop, and found that Mt. Cook, being so small, didn’t have any shops. So we had to stock up a bit for our stay. (The volume of food we were already carrying made this interesting!) By the way, post to come about our healthy backpacking ‘diet’ and Ian’s not so crazy protein powder idea. (Intriguing eh!)
We found our way onto the bus, and the further we drove, the more beautiful the landscape became. We pulled over briefly next to Lake Pukaki for pictures – and you can just about make out our first sighting of Mt. Cook in the distance. My excitement level – insane!
YHA Hostel – Our first shared room!
Upon arrival we checked into our hostel. Now, as Mt. Cook village is so small, there is very little accommodation. I believe there are only 2 hostels in the whole place! So for this stay, for the first time we had to book a shared room at the YHA Aoraki Mt Cook. With bunk beds! I must say I’ve not slept in a bunk bed for a very long time, and I felt like I was a kid at camp again.
The first night we shared a Japanese father and son, who pretty much pretended we weren’t there. So that was different. the second night we shared with another couple, who I think were Korean and spoke VERY little English. I think on both camps it was a little awkward, as both couples clearly wanted to snuggle up in our respective pairs. But when it came to lights out, etiquette dictated we slept in our own beds.
Hooker Valley Track
The first day after arrival we wanted to make the most of our short stay, so we made our protein shakes (yes really) and headed out. We made straight for the Hooker Valley Track. I think it was the most spectacular walk I’ve ever been on.
The walk takes about 3 hours in total (so 1.5 hours in each direction) and crosses 3 swing bridges, across the Hooker River. Along the way you also come across a monument to the people that have lost their lives on the mountain. Which makes for a very poignant edition. In all it’s glory it’s easy to forget the danger of the mountain before you.
Very humbling. The track follows the Hooker valley, with the most gorgeous mountains towering over you on both sides. And then the track ends suddenly at the glacier lake, where you see icebergs and the most insane view of Mt Cook.
To be honest – I could go on about how crazily beautiful it was, and majestic and humbling. And how I couldn’t stop taking photos every few steps. But honestly, I’ll just let the photos do the talking…
After we reached the glacial lake and took a million pictures again. I had to do the typical Brit thing and got my feet wet in the freeeezing water. (It had to be done!) Then we headed back down the track towards the village, taking in the same track but from a different perspective.
I must say it was one of the most wonderful days I think I spent in New Zealand.
Kea Point Track and Mt Sefton
The next day we had a full day in Mt. Cook – but I’ll be honest we were a little knackered. We’d been on the go for 9 days now, and were starting to get a little weary from all the walking/low calorie diet. So we opted to have a slower day, taking in the Governors Bush Walk – a cute little track through the bush, and then Kea Point Track. Kea Point is a lovely little walk that takes you to great views of the Mueller Glacier, and Mt Sefton in the distance. (In places the ice was so blue – I’ve never seen anything like it!)
After our long week doing various hikes, and particularly the last few days in Mt.Cook we were well and truly done in. We had to check out early the day we left and wait for our bus to our next destination – Queenstown. Luckily the hostel really kindly allowed us to hang around in their lounge area (thank you!) until it was due, so we had a little down time with WiFi and postcards. Which was quite fun actually!
And then we were off, heading to Queenstown for a slightly longer 5 day stay, so we could rest and recuperate for a few days!