Sunday, February 21, 2016
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
Although Aoraki/Mount Cook was a no-show because it was encased in fog/clouds the whole two days we visited, it was a nice trip to the mountains and a good chance for me to visit for the first time one of the most popular tourist areas on the South Island. It was around four hours to drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook with some beautiful views of the country along the way. We stayed at the Glentanner Park Centre which is just outside of the park, and it has good views of the mountains and is close to the lake which you can walk to. There were also chickens and lots of bunnies around.
We drove into Mount Cook Village for dinner since there isn't anything else around, and the food was quite tasty at the Old Mountaineers' Cafe, Bar and Restaurant. The next day, because of the weather (or not enough people for them to make up a group), the tour company cancelled our morning tour, so we had to wait around to see if any of the afternoon ones would go through. Thankfully, a later one did so we were able to go out on a boat on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake. It was a bit more extreme than it sounded like online (whoops!), but it was so much fun to get right up to icebergs that had broken off from the glacier that day or the previous day and touch them and then hold a chunk that the tour guide broke off for us. The shades of blue are so gorgeous! My camera kept getting wet but I got a few good shots. We went really fast on the way to and from getting closer to the glacier itself, and so we got soaked on the way back because of the wind and going against the water flow. At the end, we almost saw one of the big icebergs flip, but it got stuck on the bottom of the lake -- we did see it start to tip and rocks and debris falling off of it as it moved. There were lots of wildflowers along the path as well, so all in all a fun experience nestled in the mountains.