Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park

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I have spent the last two days in the Mount Cook National park. The day I arrived it poured. Luckily the wifi was decent enough I could watch UP. I also tried to plan out my last three weeks here and see if I could do a great walk. I grew tired of researching and trying to make everything work. The ones I wanted are booked full. My fault for not thinking of it sooner. Luckily where I live there are tons of places to go backpacking. It’s more primitive back home. We don’t have fancy huts you sleep in, at least that I’m aware of. I’ll save that adventure for back home. In New Zealand, I will enjoy my day walks. Since everyone makes a big deal about doing a great walk or staying in a hut, I am wondering if in their home countries they can go camping or stay in the great outdoors? I don’t know, but that might be something I ask. After a chilly wet night in Mt Cook, I awoke and the sun was shining. It was perfect, for I was going glacier kayaking. I took in the beauty that surrounded me. The view from my room was breathtaking. The view from the village was just incredible. I met my guide and group mates for the kayaking tour. It was two couples and then myself and one other lady. The lady I was going to be teamed up with was leaving her baby and husband behind. During my travels around New Zealand, I have observed a few thing. I would say about 90% of the people traveling are either solo like me or in a couple. There have been a few spots (Rotorua and Mt Cook primarily) where the Asians flock. I’m not sure why they are drawn to such places, but it is overwhelming the amount you see. I have met a few groups of friends together, but it is rare. Mt Cook was probably a little more of a couple type of place, but I still met some nice people. It has been refreshing to see all the cute couples, both married and not, go about their adventures around New Zealand. I think a couple who goes on adventures together is a happy couple and more likely to stay one. It does make me a bit nostalgic, but I’ll survive. From what I have heard about Queenstown, I don’t think I will feel left out not being in a couple. Sounds like its a bit of a party town. Anyway, so I met up with my guide to go kayaking. After we drove for about 10 mins, we did a 15 min hike to lake, and then spent some time cleaning out the kayaks that had been filled up with water. We were given our gear and the safety talk. We wear this skirt type of thing that closes off the hole we sit in in the kayak, and that protects us from getting wet. I was very thankful for that because the water was ice cold. In fact, the water is so cold nothing can live in it. The lake is surrounded by ice. You could see gaps between the lake and the shore wall and basically it was ice melting. There were also a few icebergs floating in the lake which was awesome to see. Since none of us wanted to end up like the Titanic, the guide would check out the berg, and any part of it underwater, before we got close to it. The view was epic. We were given our warning for in case ice chunks started to break off, and the waves it would produce, but luckily that did not happen. We kayaked our way back to shore and made our way back to the village. The day was still young and the sun was still shining, so I decided to take the Hooker Valley hike. It was a long but easy walk. You crossed three swing bridges. Each time going over a roaring glacier river. We saw a few different lakes, and the backdrop the entire time was the snow covered southern alps. Mount Cook became closer and closer and you reached the end of the hike. It’s a fairly well-traveled hike, but I don’t think as crowded as the Tongariro. The final destination is Hooker lake which overlooks Mt Cook. Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. It stands over 3700 meters tall. Which actually I have come to learn isn’t really that tall. Most of the mountains in Colorado are 4000 meters tall. I swiftly made my way back to the lodge because I wanted to use the sauna before it closed. I spent about a solid 1/2 hour in the sauna, and it felt so good. I had one more half day in Mt Cook before the bus would take me to Queenstown. I decided to do a track near the village which is pretty much all stairs for about 45 mins. I passed a Japanese couple and an older gentleman on my way up. Once again the view was well sweet as (kiwi term). I took what silly photos I could and then took in a moment to enjoy my surroundings. I saw both the old man and the Japanese couple up top. They asked me to jump in their picture. That’s not the first time. There have been a few people I have met briefly that wanted me in their picture. But then again I have done the same. It’s all good. I made my way back to my accommodation to fix up a quick lunch before the bus came. It may not seem like I did a whole lot, but that is because I spent most of my time staring at the mountains and their majestic beauty. Similar to what I did in Tekapo and the flowers. I did get to watch Fellowship of the Ring while I waited out the rain. And I don’t think I can watch LOTR normal anymore because I now get too giddy knowing I’ve been there. The Shire! Mordor! The Misty Mountains! The Hobbiton Woods! Too much fun.

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