I don’t know why I strive to come up with different titles for these blog posts – most of the time I just end up embarrassing myself (like right now, for instance) but I hope you guys can ignore the cringe factor and carry on reading about our amazing day trip to Aoraki/Mount Cook!
We drove to Mt. Cook National Park from Lake Tekapo. The journey takes about 1.5 hours and is ridiculously scenic. We stopped along the way to admire Lake Pukaki – another mind-bogglingly-bluer-than-blue lake with views of a distant Mt. Cook – and took a gazillion pictures together/stopped for refreshments. Turns out that my Dad has lost his camera USB cable and has a weird memory card that doesn’t seem to slot into any laptop so I have no way of sharing our group photos with you guys but luckily, the scenic shots were all on my own camera so I’ll upload those here:
Upon arrival to Mt. Cook National Park, we were greeted by a gazillion signposts; all pointing to different tracks and trails. We had decided in advance that we were going to do the longest (and most popular) 4 hour trail through Hooker Valley, so we followed the arrows, parked the car and geared up for a day of walking.
I giggled when I first heard the name ‘Hooker Valley’ because I have the mental capacity of a 14 year old and thought it sounded like New Zealand’s seedy red light district or something but no… it’s actually just an area of the national park and the trail leads directly to a glacier lake with perfect views of Mt. Cook.
It’s a relatively easy walk with no steep inclines or anything but it’s along a completely exposed path, which can be quite difficult in the summer heat. I stupidly heard the words ‘glacier’ and ‘snowcapped mountains’ and wore leggings with a massive coat when I would have been much better off in shorts and a sports bra! My Mom actually got heatstroke and I burnt my shoulders… Moral of the story? Never underestimate New Zealand sun and the mahoooooosive hole in the ozone layer down here.
The glacier lake is a really special spot. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and so crazy to see icebergs in 30-something degree heat! There are loads of picnic benches and I would highly recommend taking a packed lunch because the walk tires you out and it’s a great, picturesque spot to take a break. The water is icy cold but a lot of people were braving a quick paddle. There were people skimming stones, people doing yoga and people climbing the larger rocks – the best kind of chilled-out atmosphere.
We walked back to the beginning of the trail and immediately went in search of some food. There aren’t many restaurants in Mt. Cook village but we (once again) managed to find a cute ski lodge with vegan options. So far, New Zealand is exceeding all my foodie expectations! 🙌
It’s cool to think that this place is a snowsports hot-spot between April and September. There’s even the opportunity to go heli-skiing (if you have a gazillion dollars) in the winter. During the summer months, it’s warm and most of the trails are green and flowering but there is always snow on the mountain tops, which gives it a permanent mystical feel.
After we had regained some energy from food, we decided to head over to the Tasman Valley to squeeze in another trail. This walk was nowhere near as scenic as the Hooker Valley one but it was a lot quieter and the temperatures were cooler because it was later on in the evening.
Mount Cook may officially be my new favourite place in the South Island! We still have a few more stops on our road trip, so there’s potential for that statement to change but it’s gonna be tough to beat. Honestly, it was the kind of magic that words and pictures will never do justice ✨ Calling all of my fellow travel-lovers out there, you’ve got to add this place to your bucket list immediately…
Christmas day is creeping closer and closer and we’re off to the Queenstown area for festivities. Woo!
It may seem like I’m living the dream out here but I’m very aware that there are a few important things missing from my life right now… Sending so much love to all of my friends and family on the other side of the globe. Hope you all have the merriest of Christmases and I hope to be seeing some of you out here next year! You’ll just have to ask Santa for flight tickets… 🎅