Published: May 20th 2012May 20th 2012
Mount Cook from KEA point. Would have climbed it but forgot my crampons.
CHRISTCHURCH TO MOUNT COOK
We have limited WIFI access at the moment so just a few photos. (More to follow later)
We had booked a two berth motor-home with shower and toilet, to allow us the flexibility to freedom camp in the wilds, if an opportunity arose. It turned out to be much bigger than I expected, but that just added to the challenge of driving in New Zealand. Our intention was to head south on the flatter east side of the island, and then move across to the more picturesque west. The distant mountains provided a bit of a picturesque backdrop, but other than that, the countryside was flat farmland and realistically had little special to offer in terms of scenery – we could have been in many places in the UK. The offer of good fishing near towns we passed would have been of interest to anglers though, but realistically not to me. After about 200km drive on the main road south, we stopped at a campsite next to a small place called St. Andrews. The site provided cheap, clean but dated facilities and was fine for an overnight stop. Being a bit bored with
Our home in the snow. Sweet and sour experience- beautiful scenery, but very cold!!
the plains, we decided that next day we should strike across westwards towards the mountains and Mount Cook. But before that we stopped at a shop recommended to us and bought a duvet and 2 hot water bottles as the previous night was so cold. This turned out to be one of our better decisions. The scenery got better and better and better. Of course, anyone who has taken pictures of scenery knows they can seldom capture the grandeur of real life scenery, and our pictures are no exception to this. Look at our pictures and remember that the reality is very much better.
We got to the Department of Conservation Campsite at Mount Cook late afternoon and took the Kea Viewpoint one hour walk from the campsite to view Mount Cook. Fortunately we were very lucky to see the mountain free of clouds, and took some nice pictures before turning in for the evening. The campsite was good, having flush toilets, a water supply, a campers kitchen with indoor picnic tables and washing up sinks (but no stoves) and well spaced out pitches. Next day, we looked out and found it had been snowing overnight! Thought
Note the tiny man on the headland to get an idea of the scale. Biggest glacier in NZ.
it was cold during the night! That morning we set off for a 3 hour round trip (fairly easy) walk to a lake that gave us a closer view of Mount Cook. We were rewarded by the view of Mount Cook glacier feeding down into the lake, with a few icebergs. Sadly, clouds around the mountain partially obscured it. Returning to the campsite, we decided to visit the viewpoint for New Zealand biggest glacier, the Tasman glacier. Only a few km from the Mount Cook campground was a turnoff onto an 8km gravel road which took us to the viewing point. Definitely worth the effort, even though you had a 15 minute steep walk to reach the viewing point at the end. It was shocking to find out that the lake in front of the glacier did not exist 20 years ago, it was all glacier then. The glacier is sadly receding at an astounding rate, which is a bad omen for the future and global warming? Traffic in the area was negligible, so was a pleasure to get around.
I would thoroughly recommend visiting NZ at this time of year if you are
Icebergs on the lake at the base of the Tasman Glacier.
seeking scenery, as long as you are prepared for the cold – we could have done with a few pairs of long-johns, as the heater in our campervan was not the most effective. The snow on the tops of the mountains and the turning leaves of the trees add something special at this time of year.
And so we left the Mount Cook area and headed down the road towards Queenstown.
There are more photos below