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Published: August 24th 2009
Part two of the road trip saw us heading up to Mount Cook National Park, via Wanaka. On the way up to Wanaka we met with policeman number 3 in the space of just 5 days, we were beginning to feel liked marked men! So police pullovers = 3, tickets = 2 (Joey not so good at sweet talking the police)!! We should like to say in our defence that all three "misdemeanors" should not have been ticketable offences in the UK but fair do's they are offences here so wrists dully slapped we continued on our journey. It was a 3.5 hour drive to Mount Cook so we decided to take a pit stop at Wanaka and visit Puzzling World, which has a maze and some illusion rooms that play with your mind, plus loads of cool puzzles to play with in the cafe. We had a couple vs couple race around the maze, which we lost but only just. The illusion rooms included an octagonal room with famous faces on all the walls whose eyes follow you around the room, a wonky room where you think you are walking downhill when you are really walking uphill and a room
that tricks the eye so that people at one end of the room look huge, whilst those at the other end look small. They used this technique in Lord of the Rings when Gandalf was with Frodo and Bilbo.
As we drove along Lake Pukaki into the Mount Cook National Park valley we were heading into a large black rain cloud, and unfortunately the bad weather remained with us for the whole stay meaning that we didn't get to see the largest mountain in New Zealand or any of the supposedly stunning mountain scenery in the rest of the National Park. We did however get to hear an avalanche, although as it was above cloud level we didn't get to see it. Mount Cook is renowned for "tramping" (that's walking to us pommies) but many of the trails were closed due to avalanche risk so we just did a couple of the smaller trails to a lookout point over the glacial Lake Mueller and across a pretty wobbly swingbridge. All in all a bit of a let down, and funnily enough as we drove back out of the valley earlier than planned we drove out of the rain and
back into the sun!
On the subject of avalanches, the risk here is very high this year, more so than previous winter seasons, and there have been 3 fatalities in the last month. Two in separate heli-skiing incidents near Mt Hutt and one a 30 year old snowboarder just outside the ski area of our regular ski field Coronet Peak. It really makes you aware how dangerous the snow can be - that could easily have been us! We were hoping to do some heli-boarding ourselves at the end of August just before we leave, but that may now be put on hold unless the avalanche risk reduces.
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