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Published: April 12th 2012
8th April ’12 Mt. Cook
Another culture shock is the fact that you have to check out of hotels/motels/hostels by 10 am here – we have now to rethink the way we live our days, we are used to staying up until 12 and then getting up when we want and 12pm check outs.
Today we head to Mt. Cook the highest mountain in New Zealand and Howard is already past himself with excitement at the prospect of the snow-capped peaks! I expect the camera to take a real hammering!!
The drive was lovely, winding through valleys and mountains, past beautiful turquoise blue glacier lakes. The mountain ranges just got higher and higher the further we travelled and when we got our first glimpses of ‘the snow-capped peaks’ Howard had the biggest grin on his face! We made lots of stops and did indeed take lots of pictures!
When we arrived at Mt. Cook we found the Backpackers Hostel where we had booked a room and much to my disappointment it wasn’t a rambling old house but a purpose built new long block of rooms, ah well, but they were very comfy and had red hot showers!
We dumped our stuff and drove around the area checking out the hiking route for tomorrow and went along the un-surfaced road to the Tasman Glacier. Despite it being very late in the afternoon we decided to do the walk up to the viewpoint and I was soon huffing and puffing. When we got up there though we had a great view of the glacier and right down the valley and of those peaks!
9th April ’12 Mt. Cook to Queenstown
So we were up bright and early again and set off to walk up to Kea Point where you not only got great views of Mt. Cook and some other glaciers. It was another beautiful day, blue skies and sunshine, we found out later from some other walkers that this was the best weather they had had as the summer had been a wash out.
We hiked up round the mountains and up to the look out point, it was an amazing experience, it felt like we were the only people on earth – there was no one else around at first. It was like being in a zombie film where the survivors have to
head out into the middle of nowhere to live! All too soon though more people started appearing up the track and we decided to head back.
It’s hard to describe how remote these areas are, you travel for miles and miles before you find any small villages and driving out of the Mt. Cook area is the same. This is why we couldn’t drive past the young lad with his back pack we saw trying to hitch a ride. Turns out he is Argentinian! He is travelling and working his way around NZ and like us finding everything very expensive, he told us he has to work for 2 months in order to spend 1 month travelling. He was a lovely lad and we dropped him off when we got out of the Mt. Cook area and back to the main road where our routes split.
Good deed done for the day we carried on our long drive to get down to Queenstown for our next night stop. En route we had several stops at scenic points and places where they had loos! We also stopped at a river gorge just outside of Queenstown where there were groups
of people river boarding – using a small body board to ride down the river rapids.
Queenstown is known as the Adventure Sport Capital of the World, you can do any extreme sport there, bungee jumping, sky diving, canyoning and the list goes on…… it all looks great but I think I better give them a miss! Not only because of possible broken bits but also as everything seems to cost $150 per person and usually only lasts for 30 minutes no matter what you do. Even the Haka show was $50 pp for a 30 minute show, gutted. We are going to have to pick what we do very carefully!
We stayed at the Absoloot value hostel which was right in the heart of town near the lake and managed to find free parking up the hill which was good. After checking in we decided to look around and wandered the small streets which were full of adventure sports and outdoor pursuits type gear or souvenir shops or restaurants. Again the town has a lovely atmosphere, with people busking, a lovely lake, nice prom area, people eating ice creams and everything very laid back with another stunning
Mt. Cook in all it's glory!
mountainous back drop.
That night though, back in the hostel, it was like being transported back in time……to our old house and one of the kids’ infamous parties! There were hoards of drunk kids running around the corridors screaming at the tops of their voices!!! Aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhh, the place was advertised for back packers of all ages. Luckily they stopped not long after midnight before I had to resort to bloodshed.
10th April ’12 Queenstown to Te Anau
We had a bit more of a look around the town, found the supermarket for supplies and then set off to visit historic Arrowtown before the drive down to Te Anau.
Arrowtown developed as a result of the gold rush in the 1860s and the main street was lined with buildings that reflected that history. It was a sweet little place to while away a couple of hours, it also had a Chinese village – again which sprung up due to gold, the tiny little huts the Chinese panners lived in had been reconstructed and amazingly they knew the names of the people who lived in some of them and even had photos of some.
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