What a view!
Trip Start May 26, 2010
14Trip End Jul 07, 2010
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Where I stayed
Mercure Hotel Queenstown
So picking up from the last entry: We spent the night on Saturday at Lake Tekapo, woke up on Sunday and had a nice breakfast in the hotel room. As you’re well aware from my last entry, we had a blast at the grocery store so we were able to have some authentic New Zealand treats for breakfast :o) I had the very popular Weet-Bix cereal. Pretty yummy. The view out our motel room window was a bit dismal, the rain and clouds were continuing. We knew that we were facing a big lake that was supposed to be quite scenic, but alas too much fog to really see. But we still enjoyed our brief stopover and I was actually excited about all the snow – figured it meant the mountains (when we could eventually see them) would be snow capped and majestic
As we were driving we noticed the clouds starting to lift a bit and were very excited to see some mountaintops peaking through… little did we know what was in store for us! We stopped off at a little café gift shop out in the middle of nowhere and had quite a nice visit with the owner. We got some hot drinks and a bowl of pumpkin soup with bread. Pumpkin soup is pretty common here and in Australia, it’s really more like squash than pumpkin. The owner made this himself and it was really yummy. We had a nice chat with him, apparently he used to live in the states for quite a while and drove a long haul semi so saw quite a bit of it. We warmed up by the stove in the middle of his shop while he regaled us with stories about taking his semi into Graceland and other places for site-seeing
After the good food, we were back on the road and decided to detour into Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park as a side trip to where we were headed (Aoraki is the native/Maori name). The further up the road we drove, the more the clouds cleared and the more stunning the views became. It’s as if the countryside had waited until we reached this spectacular area to unveil its full glory. We were awestruck. To give you an idea of what this region is like – the photos truly can’t do it justice – Mt Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand at 12,316 feet. There are 22 peaks in the Mt Cook National Park that are over 10,000. Now Colorado is known for having a ton (I think it’s over 60) of peaks over 14,000 feet but keep in mind that Estes Park where Rocky National Park is sits at about 7,500 feet so the mountains jut up about 6,000 feet. But we checked the GPS in the area around where we started our hike and it was only about 2,000 feet so the area we drove into is surrounded by these peaks that just soar up dramatically from the valley floor.
We decided to seize the good weather and set out on a hike that was described as medium with an estimate of 3-4 hours long
I’m sure Sir Edmund would have thought our little hike was a stroll… but wow was it a doozy! We were told before we came that bringing our snowshoes would be useless. They explained that snowshoes are meant to sit on top of snow that is on top of an even surface and since the trails here are very uneven it wouldn’t work. I was a little skeptical on this logic since I’ve been on a lot of Colorado trails and most are pretty uneven so if it works back home…. Well maybe what they mean is that you end up climbing up a series of little steps that are often barely big enough for your hiking boot let alone a snowshoe! Yep, this was an up hike. And I mean UP. We checked Jason’s GPS and we climbed over 1800 feet
Our goal for the hike was the Sealy Tarns (tarns are small mountain lakes) but because we got on the trail so late in the day and the idea of going down all those incredibly steep and icy stairs in the dark was not appealing, we turned back just a bit shy of the lakes
We’d started the hike at about noon and hadn’t take time for lunch so we had a quick bit to eat in the car from our lovely chilly bin ;o) then headed out to find a place to stay. We lucked out and found a room using my hotel points at a place called the Mercure in Queenstown. They offered to give us an upgraded room if I signed up for their free loyalty program (sure!) It was lovely and the best part was that the hotel had a hot tub. The hot tub was outside next to two pools that connected with a waterfall. It was as such a scenic spot to soak our tired muscles – the sky was chock full of bright stars and we could just make out a snow capped mountain peak in the twilight. We had it all to ourselves and it was the perfect end to a truly awesome day!
The next day we woke up to a fairly nice view of Lake Wakatipu, although similar to the day before there was a lot of clouds. But once again we got lucky and it burned off fairly quickly as we started our drive down to Milford Sound. But that’s a different day and it’s getting to be supper time, so I’ll save that posting for later. As always, hope everyone is doing well and you enjoyed your 3 day Memorial Weekend. Take care and love to you,