The massive Mt Cook

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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Trip End Mar 16, 2009


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Friday, February 29, 2008

After our sad departure from Queenstown we made our way through the Otago province to Australasia's tallest mountain called Mt. Cook. Along the way we passed a few wine farms and we popped in for a quick wine tasting or two. Most notable was Peregrine wines who had some fantastic Pinot Noir and Riesling to taste. We also got a chance to watch some bungy jumping which nearly tempted us to go for another jump.
 
The drive to Mt Cook was little over 3 hours and as usual the weather was cloudy with some rain. The road to Mt Cook is along a huge lake called Lake Pukaki which was created by the pure snow and ice melting from the mountains and glaciers. The lake is a  beautiful milky blue and probably would have been even more spectacular if the sun was out.

By the time we arrived at Mt Cook village it was completely overcast and was threatening to rain. After purchasing a NZ$ 1 map of the walks in the area we decided to play it safe and attempt the 1 hour Kea Point walk to view the glaciers.  We weren't sure we would see anything with the low cloud cover and the further we got from the start of the walk the worse the weather started looking. When we eventually got to Kea Point we were not very far from the closest glacier which was pretty spectacular even though most of it was hidden by clouds. Every now and then you could hear the creaking and groaning as the glacier would slowly move down the mountain. It was quite an eerie sound.
 
True to the weather in New Zealand the wind picked up and within minutes the sky started clearing. We were then treated to a full view of Mt. Cook which was previously shrouded by clouds. It was truly impressive, especially the way the clouds would swiftly pass over the peak and leave little wispy clouds in its wake. 
 
After almost and hour of watching in awe we moved on to the next glacier called Tasman Glacier which is apparently New Zealand's biggest glacier, 29km long and is up to 200m at its head and moves approximately 200m a year. When I arrived at the look out point I was quite surprised by what I saw, it looked more like something you would expect on the surface of Mars. Much of the ice that had moved down the glacier was covered in the grey soil which can be seen on the steep banks of the glacier. Apparently the lake in the photos was been growing as a result of global warming as was not much more than a pond a few years ago. Glad I got to see it when I did!
 
We unfortunately could not find any accommodation in Mt. Cook village so we headed back down the road to a little town called Twizel to where we would spend the night.
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