Travelling New Zealand’s South Island 7 – Mt Cook – by Rob Shackleford
Other Travelling NZ Blogs
|1 – Christchurch to Oamaru||2 – To Dunedin||3 – To Bluff||4 – To Milford Sound||5 – Queenstown and the Wild West Coast|
|6 – Arthur’s Pass to Lake Tekapo||7 – Mt Cook||8 – Kiwi Food||9 – Faces of NZ – 1||10 – Faces of NZ – 2|
The Road to the Alps
Driving from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki on a clear day gives one of the most fabulous vistas I have ever seen. Think driving at a line of snow-capped mountains and as far as you turn your head to your left and right, the line continues. It is certainly something you can’t catch on camera.
The incredible vista continues as you drive north to Mount Cook and follow the coastline and ice-blue waters of Lake Pukaki.
The town of Mount Cook is surprisingly small with not a lot there but for the domineering, snow-covered immensity of Mount Cook, or Aoraki as locals call it. It is a small settlement that caters for tourists. The main feature is the Hermitage, with its statue of Sir Edmund Hillary and shops, restaurant, a museum and cinema.
The weather began to close in, but we were fortunate to hike the Hooker Valley Track to the lakes in the valley leading to the bulk of Mount Cook. That was undeniably spectacular, but was as close as we got, for we were compelled to seek shelter. While Mount Cook is a popular climbing mountain, we understand in our limited experience that it is not for the faint-hearted. Hot summers and winters of less snow have made the peak very dangerous and is the location of many mishaps and even deaths.
So, driven from outdoors by the rain, we spend part of the day in catching a few shows at the cinema, which showcase promotional and educational videos on the mountain and surrounds.
Ever a chance to have pix taken of people with Traveller Inceptio:
From Mt Cook we head south and, as we cross the plains in which Lake Pukaki sits, we see something on the road. Yes, another Asian tourist who decides to stop in the middle of the road rather than pull over to take their pictures. This is not a racist comment, for there seems to be a driver education lapse that is dangerous to all concerned.
On the way to Omarama we stopped at the Clay Cliffs, a natural gorge with tall pinnacles and narrow ravines. carved by the nearby river. It is a surprisingly interesting stop and worth a short hike to explore. There is no admission price though, as it is located on private land, a donation is requested.
At the Otematata Crib
Near to Omarama is the tiny settlement of Otematata, where our friend Greg had offered his crib as accommodation for a few days. In New Zealand, old homes that might be located in remote places, especially for fishermen hoping for a few days in the wild, are, in the South Island, called cribs, while the North Island calls them a bach. Spelled with no ‘t’.
Using the crib as our base for a few days, we were able to explore the local area and chill. There was no real TV, so it was particularly excellent to read.
Local hiking included forests around Lake Benmore. We also tried the hot pools at Omarama. This is not a geothermal region, so these hot pools were heated so we could sit privately in the freezing outdoors. The water was so hot it was necessary to sit out of the water till we cooled down.
Back to Oamaru and Dunedin
Running out of days for our New Zealand South Island exploration, we drove back to the coast and caught a night at Oamaru. We like to walk where we can, so we explored the shoreline, saw plenty of seals and a rookery of cormorants, and opted not to see the Blue Penguin colony due to cost.
We had heard tales about her uncle Rex’s luck in being on site as a salmon fishery had a breakout, where he and his mates caught a lot of prize salmon when they were fishing. It was amusing to note that very topic, of the breakout, was discussed by a couple of farmers in an Oamaru restaurant. Men who would normally discuss the football or sheep were talking the salmon fishing opportunities.
Rex later told us that, as soon as the breakout was known, it felt as if half of Christchurch was there, crowded along the banks of the lake and the canals.
The next day we were back at Denedin to an amazing, freshly-caught salmon dinner. Just one of the perks of knowing locals.
A few days later, after visiting family members, we caught a light flight to Christchurch and then home.
New Zealand Finale
Travel in New Zealand is quite easy. The roads are good, though not as wide as home. Normally, there isn’t the traffic, so that adds to the charm.
While the stunning vistas are why we visit, the things that really matter make our New Zealand adventure worthwhile. I’m talking about the people part of travel. Kiwis are very friendly, the food is great and the coffee superb. With an uncrowded countryside, beautiful things to see, and an uncomplicated travel experience, it’s an easy place to love.
Deb would love to live here, but I don’t know if I could handle the cold. It’s nice as a novelty, but I like my beach home.
But for the future, who can tell …
Other of our Travelling with Traveller Inceptio Blogs
|India by Royal Enfields 1||Britain by House Sits||Scottish Food||Scottish Culture||Southern Scotland||Northern Wales|
|Faces of Scotland||House Sit Bath||Faces of England||House Sitting UK||Faces of Wales||Visit to London|
Rob and Deb live at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Deb is a yoga teacher and administrator par excellence.
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