Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Aoraki / Mount Cook

Aoraki, or Mount Cook, is the highest mountain in New Zealand, at 3724 m. Although visiting Mount Cook meant I had to travel a bit forward and backwards, not really fitting into my travel route, I am so glad I went. I don't know why, but mountains never diappoint me. No matter how familiar the scenery is, how spectacular or non-spectacular it looks, I just love mountain landscapes.

The first full day I spent in Mount Cook it was meant to rain. Instead we got brilliant sunshine. As the forecast looked bad, I had originally planned to only go for a very short walk that day. Then two of the girls staying in my room were planning to go to Tasman Valley, and I decided to join them, as you have to have a car to get there. This was very lucky for me, both because I got good company and because otherwise I would've wasted what turned out to be a lovely day.

The Tasman Valley is the home of the Tasman Glacier. There were icebergs floating in the lake here. It looked pretty small, but that's a boat with maybe twenty passengers beside it, just to give you an idea of the scale.

After the Tasman Valley we decided to do the Sealy Tarns track, which consists of 2200 steps! And that won't even take you to the top of anything. It will give you very good views, though, and an excellent bragging opportunity.

Aoraki, the Maori name for the mountain, means something like "cloud piercer". And Aoraki is the peak you can see piercing the clouds in the picture above.

The day after I did the Hooker Valley walk, which leads to the glacier lake where you have a great view of Mount Cook. This is a flat walk, so there were a lot more people there than the Sealy Tarns track.

Taking the above picture was pretty hilarious. I set up my camera on self-timer, as you do when you don't have anyone else to take your picture, and this Chinese man told me he could help. I said I was okay, and he then proceded to show me a picture of me he had just taken with his own camera, without asking, to show me that he could indeed help. And that is how a middleaged Chinese tourist ended up taking my picture.

Just to round it all up I decided to do the Red Tarns walk as well. Like Sealy Tarns, that meant more steps, though unfortunately I don't have the number this time. What you can see in the picture below is Mount Cook village in its entirety. It's the kind of small place that has no supermarket, so you have to remember to bring food before you get there. I was extremely lucky with the weather, which made for a few amazing days in Mount Cook. Even though I couldn't climb the actual mountain (you have to be a proper mountaineer to do that).

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