Days 3 and 4 – Lake Pukaki and Aoraki Mount Cook
After brunch at Reflections Café in Lake Tekapo, we hit the road and drove 105km northwest to Mount Cook. Before reaching Mount Cook, we stopped for some pictures at the Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre. Lake Pukaki was much bigger and windier than Lake Tekapo, but they had the same turquoise colour and the same awe-inspiring appeal.
Our first adventure in Mount Cook was the Tasman Valley 4WD & Argo Tour. The 30-minute ride on this Argo truck was very very very bumpy (certainly not advisable for pregnant women and senior people, sorry) but it turned out really exciting for our boys!
The climb was short but really steep, quite dangerous even. There were no barriers, very windy, and all 5 of us, including uncle Graham the guide, were just sharing a 4 feet wide, less than 15 feet length of space at the top of the wall.
This was the terminus of the Tasman Glacier. The glacier was bluish but covered in small rocks hence the dark layer seen on top.
We stayed for two nights at The Hermitage. We wanted a mountain feel and so instead of staying at a room in the main hotel, we opted for their chalet. The Hermitage is at the base of the Southern Alps, on the valley between Mount Sealy and Mount Wakefield.
On our 2nd day at Mount Cook, we did a glacier lake tour! We joined the Glacier Explorer Tour where we walked 1-hr return and jet-boated in the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake for 1.5hours.
The boat was a hard plastic and small enough to bring us close to the icebergs.
After visiting the glacier and the icebergs, the jet boat sped off and turned our calm adventure into an exhilarating one. It was drizzling, there was no sun, it was cold and very windy! It was brutal. But we liked it!
This was an experience one should not miss when in New Zealand.
Soon after getting our fingers back (they seemed to have disappeared in the cold winds at the lake) and after eating colossal burgers at Old Mountaineer’s Café, we went tramping at Hooker Valley. Tramping is how they say hiking in New Zealand.
It was drizzling and cold but we thought the rain made our mini tramp even more challenging and exciting – perfect for our kind of family! With our weather-proof jackets and water-proof trek shoes (sorry we’re a bit ‘kiasu’ hence the raincoat too), we were off to our first real hike.
This was the first bridge at Hooker Valley, where you see the Muller Glacier Lake and the Hooker River. With Joaquin’s tired but happy little feet, it took us 45mins or so to get there, and another 45 mins to get back to Whitehorse Hill Camp, where we started.
This time we chose to tramp to Kea Point, a 2hr-return trek for us (1hr for those with longer legs). The rocks here were big and the elevation of some parts of the track made our earlier trek at Hooker Valley a walk in the park.
It was drizzling on and off during the two days that we were in Mount Cook. We reckon it was a blessing because it made our activities even more interesting. We did not get to do the helicopter ride which we had in our itinerary because of the thick clouds, but it was okay because the activities we got to do were, for us, already exceptional and memorable.
That was Part 2, mates! Looking forward to Queenstown in Part 3….