What a glorious day!
It was cloudy when we woke but most of the cloud soon burned off and we discovered that last night’s rain had fallen on the higher ground as snow. All the hills and mountains were freshly dusted white.
Lake Tekapo was looking gorgeous; turquoise surrounded by snowy white peaks. We decided to drive up to Mt Cook, about an hour away. We diverted along one of the hydro canals and past the Mt Cook Salmon farm. Stephen ducked in for a quick look and decided to stop there to buy some on the way back.
The Mt Cook turnoff is back towards Twizel, we were retracing the path that we took the other day when we first came to Lake Tekapo. We once again stopped at Lake Pukaki. The view today was so very different. Today we could see the mountains behind the gorgeously blue lake. The views all day really were fantastic. Mt Cook sits amongst the other peaks of the Southern Alps at the northern end of Lake Pukaki, all snow-capped and looking brilliant in the sunshine with the blue sky and the blue lake.
We arrived at Mt Cook Village and had a look in the Dept. of Conservation Info centre, then had lunch at the ‘Old Mountaineer’s Café’. The owners of this café fought the DOC for ten years to be allowed to build and open the business in Mt. Cook village; until they did so the DOC controlled the only accommodation and eateries. The owners have years of experience as mountaineering guides and have written a book about their experiences and the battle to build and open the café. I know I’m going to regret not buying the book!
Anyway, lunch was delicious (if expensive – but what isn’t around here?) and the views are incredible. Mt. Cook is so majestic. We couldn’t help commenting over and over on just how beautiful it looks.
After lunch we drove out through the Tasman Valley and walked up to the viewpoint for the Tasman Glacier. It’s not as pretty as the other glaciers we’ve seen, it’s covered in rubble left as the glacier has melted from the top down, but awesome never-the-less. It’s New Zealand’s longest glacier and you can only see a comparatively small part of it. This glacier ends in a lake – Lake Tasman – that has icebergs floating in it; great chunks of ice that have broken off the end of the glacier.
There are several other glaciers up there amongst the snowy peaks and valleys. Everything looks stunning! But you can’t just hang around and gaze at snowy peaks, blue lakes and sunshine. If nothing else, you’d soon get very cold! We headed back and stopped at the salmon farm again on the way home.
After tea at the Japanese restaurant again we went and had a look at the historic little stone Church of the Good Shepherd and the nearby statue of the Border Collie sheep dog, without which the Mackenzie District could never have been successfully farmed.
It’s a beautiful evening, with the mountains all still visible as the sun sets, but once again not a good night for star-gazing due to high cloud.