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Published: March 3rd 2015
From Christchurch, on the East Coast we drove over Arthur's Pass, 737m above sea level, to the West Coast. The journey across the Pass was amazing, so many incredible views through breathtaking countryside. In the Summer it is easy to forget how formidable it must be to live in an area which can be so quickly transformed by the weather. We stayed in Arthur's Pass YH which was newly built and very nice. Having dropped off our bags, we carried on to Punakaiki on the coast to see Pancake Rocks. As the name implies the rocks have the appearance of a pile of pancakes but at high tide the waves come crashing in and spurt out of holes in the rock. It was a long journey but well worth it! On Weds we drove south to spend 2 nights in Mt Cook YH. En route we stopped at Lake Tekapo to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd. It's the smallest church I've ever been in and would probably only seat about 30 people. It's built of local stones which were carried by hand and has the most amazing view of the lake through a large window behind the altar. Outside
is a statue of a collie. Without these highly intelligent and motivated dogs it would have been, and still is, impossible to farm sheep in such remote and mountainous terrain. Our final destination was Mt Cook which is the highest mountain in New Zealand, measuring 3,724. Even in summer it is still covered in snow and is really impressive. The youth hostel, built like a log cabin, is located close by and we had the most incredible view from our window. the following morning we took a helicopter ride up onto the mountains. The views of the mountains and glaciers were phenomenal and landing on virgin snow at 7,500 ft was an unforgettable experience. I even got to sit next to the pilot which meant I could take awesome aerial photos. We didn't really have any plans for the afternoon but found out that you could sail on one of the glacier lakes. We got on a bus, not really knowing what to expect but it turned out to be another fantastic experience. The coach took us to a car park and after a 15 min walk we arrived at the Tasman Glacier lake which had icebergs floating in it.
We donned life jackets and got into a motorboat with a guide who took us to look at, touch and even taste icebergs which had been part of the glacier at the far end of the lake and which contained ice that was between 300 and 600 yrs old! One iceberg actually flipped over moments after we had been looking at it and others melted into the lake.
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