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Published: February 28th 2011
Originally when we were first planning our New Zealand itinerary, we were a little clueless about the roads here. One tramping guidebook we were using had the Welcome Flat trail from the West Coast on one page and the Mueller Hut trail from Mt Cook on the very next page of the same section. So, logically we decided that these two trips could be done back-to-back. Silly us, the two areas are on opposite sides of the divide, and the shortest drive from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook is 6-8 hours... We're so glad that we had the time to make the drive (split it up with a night in Haast) and also spent enough time in the area to wait out the weather.
It was cloudy and rainy when we first arrived and the mountain was nowhere to be seen through the fog. Luckily the Tasman valley was much nicer and actually sunny for the morning. The Tasman glacier is New Zealand’s largest glacier and it was amazing to get so close to it and to see how the valley was carved over thousands of years. The geology of this island is fascinating. We decided to hike to Ball
Shelter and spend the night there. The track was fairly good for the most part except there were some really unstable bits where rock slides had wiped out the trail. It was a bit unnerving climbing over the wobbly boulders, but we made it. The shelter is quite new and only has three bunks. We stayed in our tent anyways, but had the use of the hut to ourselves as the place was deserted. Just awesome!
While we were in the national park, the earthquake struck in Christchurch. We were sitting in a café at Mt Cook Village at the time. Jordan felt a bit of a “bump” but thought it was just vertigo at the time. Then we heard the news on the radio. Thankfully our friends in Christchurch and Darfield are all okay, but our thoughts are with them as they recover from this disaster. The quake also left its mark on the Tasman glacier as several million tonnes of ice calved off the glacier causing a 3 meter wave in the Tasman Lake. We went back the next day and it was quite impressive to see the before and after comparison. The photos are a little
deceptive, but there were some boats in the water that gave an idea of the huge size of the new chunks of ice in the water.
After surveying the damage at the Tasman glacier we headed up the Mueller Hut/Sealy Tarns trail at Mt Cook as the weather finally improved. It’s a nice hike if you enjoy a few hours of climbing up giant steps effectively doing single leg squats most of the way. We decided rather than go all the way to Mueller Hut that we would take advantage of the fact that you can camp anywhere in the national park for free as long as you’re 200m off the trail. Despite the difficult hike there was a steady stream of people all heading for Mueller Hut. I guess it’s the Lonely Planet effect… Instead we camped near the Sealy Tarns and had the place to ourselves once the crowds of the day had gone. We had a foggy, wet night and we mastered the “umbrella technique” for getting in/out of our tent while keeping the inside dry. The next morning our patience was rewarded with an incredible sunrise with clear views of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman
from the tarns. By about 9am, the clouds had already moved back in to obscure the mountain again and the forecast turned to more rain and wind.
Tot: 3.166s; Tpl: 0.102s; cc: 18; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0738s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.3mb