“Anytime I think of a mountain anywhere in the world I think of Mt Cook. Its shape is so symbolic of mountains, it’s huge. It’s dangerous, I guess the fact that it’s the highest one in New Zealand… we’re just lucky.”Mountaineer Jim Wilson
Yep, Lucky. Mt Cook’s peak is typically hidden by clouds, but our drive to the park started with a clear day at Lake Pukaki. The lake’s milky blue color is due to dissolved minerals – “glacier flour”. We stopped over and over for photo after photo.
The first stop in the park wasa short hike to the Tasman Valley Glacier.
Hooker Valley Track
A 10k walk that prompts you to shriek “Look! Look at that! Oh my!” to complete strangers. Three suspension bridges, boardwalks, and rocky tracks led UP and DOWN to a glacier lake at the base of Mt Cook. The peak had retreated into the clouds, but there were icebergs (and there should have been Hobbits).
Flight Seeing from Tekapo
(Air Safaris – the Grand Traverse) from Lake Tekapo to the glaciers and NZ’s highest peak, 12,218 feet (3,724 meters).
The Enormity was Thrilling
A Work of Art From the Air
Lake Tekapo is a Jewel
The Name – Aoraki/Mt Cook
Maori legend says the canoe of ancestral figure Aoraki (Aorangi) and his brothers capsized at sea and the freezing wind turned them all to stone. The canoe became the South Island and the brothers the Southern Alps. The English name of Mount Cook honors Captain James Cook who surveyed the NZ islands in 1770 (but never saw the mountain).
Mapping our Drive
And That Was That!…Or So I Thought
The Crescendo – The highest point reached in a progressive increase of intensity; however, on the South Island, around every curve, beyond every switchback and over every hill was a BIG scene. Distances are not long, but changes in vistas were astounding.
We remained on the South Island for 10 additional weeks, 7 of which were Covid-19 lockdown, and were given the gift of time with visa extensions….able to return 11 months later in January, 2020.