Thursday, 31 October 2013

Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook

19-21 October
I landed at Christchurch Airport on the Friday morning (18 October) having been away almost exactly one month. Mike has booked a w/e away staying on Lake Tekapo in the Southern Alps. It’s a small town with a strip of cafes, bars and adventure outfits, famous for its air clarity, a world heritage site for that in fact, so we’re hoping to do a spot of star gazing while we’re here.

Looking across Lake Tekapo with the snow-topped peaks all around

Having booked into our smart b&b we set off for a walk around the town and down by the gloriously turquoise blue lake, ending up with a soak in the local hot pools. Good Japanese restaurant for dinner. We’ve been given lots of info by the landlady and plan to walk to the base of Mount Cook the next day.

The car park for the Hooker Valley walk at the foot of the mountains
Turns out to be a fine day and we set off in good time driving for about an hour to Mount Cook village, buying lunch and setting off on our walk up the Hooker Valley. The day is sunny and warm but there’s a lot of snow around on the mountain tops and a chill in the air.

The first of three swing bridges with lines of moraine ahead

We start off walking over a landscape shaped by glacial deposits looking rather like man-made dykes, the path is good and quite well-used and we can see Mount Cook looming up ahead of us: a perfect pyramid-shaped mountain peak, snow and ice shining in the sunlight. We hear a distant rumble and watch as an avalanche spreads slowly down the mountain side above us.

Looking up at the mountain range from the second swing bridge

There are three rivers to cross on our journey up the valley, each one traversed by a fairly newly built  swing bridge. In fact the its clear the path has recently been upgraded as there are new board walks across wet areas as well as fun stretches where we have to walk along stepping stones to cross streams. It’s bit early in the year for much in the way of flowers but we spot a large patch of beautiful Mount Cook lilies.

Mount Cook lilies which are actually the world's largest buttercup

At the top of the valley we come to the end of the trail where there’s a large picnic area beside Lake Hooker and Mount Cook rises majestically at the far side of the lake. The lake of course is freezing: we can see the glacier at its far end and there are a couple of mini icebergs floating in it, but Mike has to go for a paddle.
Paddling in the icy waters
Aoraki Mt Cook with glacier melting into the lake below
After lunch we retrace our steps and as its fairly early we head across to Lake Tasman a short drive away. It takes about an hour to walk across the litchen covered moraine and up a hill to view the Lake and glacier. Here there are a lot more icebergs and the glacier is on a much bigger scale. Quite a chilling spot.

Icebergs on Lake Tasman

The Observatory on the top of Mount John over Lake Tekapo

The next day we drive up to the top of Mount John and walk around the Observatory buildings looking down on the town before heading back to Christchurch. The evening skies have had a layer of cloud so star gazing’s not been an option over the w/e but I’m sure we’ll be back.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue. As always love the pics and reading on your adventures down under. Absolutely love the snow pictures and the scenic views, always looks so fresh. Used to love walking in snow and the crunch of it under foot. The icebergs look interesting and must be amazing to see them close up.