Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mount Cook (6) to Oamaru Day 3

There was many unforgettable experiences to this trip, but waking up and looking out the window to the view below, was for me probably the highlight.

It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to realise that the less permanent your abode the closer to nature you feel. We spent nights in the camper van being rocked back and forth in gale force winds and being deafened by the rain beating against the roof.
The camper van might lack a certain amount of comfort but if we had booked into hotels all along the way, the experience would have been "softened". We would never really have appreciated how bad the winds were in the Catlins, how torrential the rain was in Milford Sound, or feel the air getting colder as we travelled higher in altitude into the Southern Alps.
Apart from the pragmatics of trying to sort out accommodation everywhere you end up, the camper van, in my opinion, is the ideal way to travel. Especially if your trip is about exploring natures bounty. The landscapes have been shaped by the high winds and torrential rains and it would be a shame to leave your hotel unaware of these, sometimes severe, weather fronts first hand. Don't get me wrong none of us on the trip were "die hards." I thing I have slept in a tent once in my life and one could argue that camping is a step closer to nature again.
We went to bed early the first night and woke early too as a result. I was like a child at Christmas, excited beyond words. I looked out the window and literally couldn't contain myself. Now, as my family will testify, it would normally take world war three to get me out of the bed before I had to, but Mount Cook was the exception. I got up and headed out at 7.30 am and watched the sun rise over Mount Cook National Park. Besides, truth be told, it was probably warmer outside! Here's a few pics of the sky reflecting the sunrise.

Mount Cook or Aoraki in Maori, is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage sites and forms part of the Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand. We visited the other, Tongariro National Park, some time ago and you can check out the previous post here. Incidentally it was also Mordor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But back to Mount Cook, here's a few more pics taken from the camper van park.

The weather in this part of NZ is notorious, with fine days being something of a rarity. Aoraki means cloud piercer and the mountain "does exactly what it says on the tin". It is incredibly unusual to see the top of the mountain, hence the name. We were lucky as we got to experience both scenarios, as the cloud lifted as the day progressed.
I eventually got the girls motivated and we headed onto Mount Cook National Park for a short tramp of the Hooker Valley. The sign below gives the times to the various destinations.

The following pic is from the Mueller Lake look out.

In order to get to the Hooker Valley you have to cross various suspension bridges.

Here's a closer view of Mueller Lake and one of another bridge.

Our reward for our one hour tramp was the following view, unfortunately the sun was right into the camera so I had to move slightly. You actually get a much better view of Mount Cook than the pic would suggest.

After we had finished our tramp it was back into the camper van, next stop Oamaru to see some penguins. While we driving along we noticed a Ute pulled over on the side of the road with a sheep sign on the front it. We thought it odd and while I was lost in thought thinking about it, I heard Sharon scream "STOP!" Then suddenly it all made sense. The following pics might give a clue!

We thought Welly our mascot should get in on the act too. This is a very rare appearance of our much loved if somewhat neglected mascot.
The pic above is the best picture of our trip in my opinion and I felt the post should therefore end with it. Mount Cook is the sixth best place to visit in NZ, so we are peaking quite early. Rest assured though, there are still some amazing places to follow, and better "experiences" if that could be possible.

It is hard to believe we contemplated giving Mount Cook a miss, as cul de saq's go this has to be one of the best!


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