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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 262: Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 24 July 2008 | Views [1405]

Mount Cook area at dusk

Mount Cook area at dusk

Thursday 24th July

I woke up to find that the heavy rain of the night before had turned to snow, with the result that there was a blanket of snow covering the ground outside the hostel. I was due to get a bus to Mount Cook later in the morning, so I got my stuff together, had breakfast and relaxed while waiting for 11.00 to come around.

The bus picked me up at 11.20, as the snow continued to fall. The coach was a very modern one, with large windows allowing passengers to get a good view of the countryside through which we passed. It seemed that this particular service was popular with Japanese people, as I gathered that they were only stopping in Mount Cook to drop people like myself off, spend no more than a few hours there, and then head on to their next destination. The driver provided us with a running commentary throughout the two hour trip, and he certainly knew his stuff.

The bus dropped me off at the YHA which I had booked the day before. I planned to stay there for a night before getting the same bus back the following afternoon, just about enough time for me to see the sights around Mount Cook and get back to Lake Tekapo to pick up the bus the day after (I was sticking to a tighter schedule now I had just about a week left in New Zealand). The hostel was very quiet, and this made it more obvious that we were in the off-peak season than anywhere else that I had visited on my trip. There were a few Germans (as usual) and a small group of Japanese guys about, but there was a lot of room and it was a good place to stay.

After having some lunch, I walked out into Mount Cook village to check it out. Apparently, there are about 150 full-time residents in the wintertime, and about 230 in the summertime, and the village is made up of a large hotel and information centre, a group of houses, a school, and not a lot else. The mountains are very imposing, with a large glacial valley stretching out in the distance towards Lake Pukaiki, from where we had come that morning.

I got a map and some information from the DoC office, and made up my mind what I was going to do based on the advice of a helpful official there. I then visited the Sir Edmind Hillary Alpine Centre which is housed in the huge Hermitage Hotel. I bought a ticket for the museum and watched a 3-D movie on Mount Cook, which was very impressive, and I also got to see two movies projected onto the semi-spherical ceiling of the auditorium, one on the origins of the solar-system, and one explaining black holes (both of them were on complicated subjects, but were really interesting). I was impressed by the whole set-up at the Alpine Centre, and it was a good way of passing a few hours in a place with not much else to do apart from trekking.

When I left the Alpine Centre and walked out to see the mountains in front of me, there was an amazingly atmospheric feel to the place, with the light and the clouds collaborating to create a pinkish, blue hue. I took some photos, but they'll never convey just how good a moment this was. It made me love the mountains even more, and I couldn't wait to spend a few hours the next day wandering along the trails at their feet.

As it was starting to get dark and there wasn't anything else to do, I went back to the hostel and made some dinner, read the paper, and just relaxed. I got an early night, got stuck into my book and enjoyed the comfort of the hostel as I knew it was pretty cold outside.

 

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