Saturday, 14 February 2015

Mount Cook

Our day started with beautiful weather and a lovely breakfast overlooking beautiful Lake Tekapo.  We packed up our tent and assorted equipment and made our way toward Mount Cook National Park. 

As we approached we could see the mountains soaring ahead of us into the bright blue sky.  Glaciers could be seen creeping down the mountain peaks.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  It was a scorching hot day, and we enjoyed the warmth while we registered in the very basic department of conservation camp ground.    It was most unusual in comparison with national parks we are used to.  The sites are not really deliniated and are in large grassy areas.  Many campers travel in "camper vans" so they set up in the parking lot.  Picnic tables are located, not at sites, but at communal kitchen areas where campers gather with their cook stoves in hand to prepare their food.  There are many travellers from around the world, so one hears many languages in the kitchen area.

We made inquiries and discovered that there was a heli-hiking tour available which was very appealing as it would address one of Paul's long held desires-at least in part.  He had always wanted to ski the Tasman Glacier, but had not been able to when he lived in Australia forty years ago.  Being in New Zealand in the summer made skiing impossible, so heli-hiking was the next best thing.  We made arrangements to do this the next morning.

By the time we arrived and took care of details, we had time for only one short walk so we found a short trail which led to the Tasman lake, formed by the melting of the Tasman Glacier, then we made our meal and cleaned up and settled in for another cold night under very clear skies.  The stars were again spectacular, but we spent a few scant minutes admiring them as we knew that the night would be cold and we wanted to get our beds as warm as possible before the full cold of the night settled in.

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