Posts Tagged ‘Mount Cook’

Day 2: Swinging Around

July 15, 2010 1 comment

01 June 2010

Happy June!

Last night was cold.  I ended up sleeping with my head under the covers, which was just warm enough.  Still woke up a few times though.

We woke up this morning and took a short hike down Hooker Valley.  After two swing bridges and lots of snow, we got a spectacular view of the valley, something Lena and I never had a chance to see when we were down here.

Dead on the Ground

I was doing some running between rocks around the first swing bridge on the walk. I made it between the rocks just fine, but when I went to climb back up onto the main track, I bumped my knee against a rock. Unfortunately, this is a very sensitive spot on my body, and a small bump causes me to start to black out. This was my recovery. (Taken by Kat)

Looking Down

I took this picture while laying down on the ground, recovering from my near blackout. It was below freezing and in the shade for most of this walk, so we obviously had to bundle up quite a bit.

Hooker Valley Panorama

This is the view about an hour into the Hooker Valley Track. At the point, the sun first started to peak out over the mountains, and it got really warm. We could hear some small avalanches as the snow and ice began to melt, giving way under the pressure of the snow above.

We made our first real meal with our cooking supplies: chicken rice soup and grilled cheese.  It was tasty, and the burner worked much better than I expected.

Oh, and we heard avalanches up on the slopes throughout the night, and even got to see a small one way up on the mountain during our hike.  So cool!


Our van, and home, for the next 10 days of our trip. We rented from Escape Rentals and were very happy with it. Our van was called "Pohutakawa"; named after the red flowers that were painted along the side by a local artist.

We set off down the road towards Dunedin, not really sure where we were going to stop for the night.  Quite a few cool places along the way, and we stopped to take pictures.  I especially liked an area with a large pond, really yellow, full colored trees, and a tree swing.  Reminded me of Pumpkinville a little.

Fall in New Zealand

Saw this alongside the road during our drive from Mount Cook to Dunedin. This tree was right along a small pond, one of the Waitaki Lakes, just before Lake Benmore.


(Taken by Kat)

Fun Times

Kat's turn.

Fantail Above the Leaves

We spotted this fantail skimming above the trees on the pond.

About an hour in, I realized that I forgot both of our water bottles back at Mount Cook in the little kitchen are where we washed them.  I’m a little upset about that because I really liked that water bottle, and Kat had just gotten hers.

We stopped at the Moeraki Boulders and ate dinner.  It was Satay chicken with onions and rice.  So classy for a camping meal!

At the same place we went outside and saw more stars than I’ve ever seen in my life.  I figured out how to use my remote on my camera (something I’ve been struggling with) and got a three-minute exposure.  It’s a bit blurry (probably because of wing), but you get the picture.

Looking Up

Kat and I stopped for dinner near the Moeraki Boulders. It was so clear out that I decided to go outside and try my new remote control for the first time. I was able to take this photo, a ~3 min. exposure of the Southern sky.

We finally ended up on the beach in a small town called Wairunga that was just north of Dunedin.  Not quite sure if we can camp here, but we didn’t see any signs that said otherwise.  We’ll see by morning!

Also, I love my headlamp.  Probably the best purchase I’ve made in a while: makes navigating (and writing) at night so easy.

See the full set on Flickr! (Photos will be uploaded as I go through each day.)


Day 1: Introduction

July 14, 2010 3 comments

31 May, 2010

It’s our first night on the South Island!

Katrina and I caught a flight this morning into Christchurch from Wellington.  She’s been doing a lot of air travel recently, as she just got into New Zealand yesterday from Calgary.

We took the city bus to the Wellington airport (and also one in Christchurch).  They worked really well, were cheap, and were easy to follow.  I’d highly recommend them if you’re ever traveling in New Zealand.

The flight down was incredible.  There were clouds at about 2000 meters, covering nearly everything, and all the mountain peaks poked out above that.  They were snow covered, and for as far as you could see it was an alternation of snow capped mountain tops and fluffy white clouds.  To top it all off, the sun was shining bright since we were above all the clouds.

Mountains of the South

The flight down to the South Island was perfectly sunny, but only because we were above the clouds. As you can see, most of the island was covered in clouds, with the exception of the huge mountains of the south poking through into the upper atmosphere.

Of course, the weather on the ground isn’t as hospitable.  It was “a tropical 8° C” (45° F), as the captain of our plane said.  Clouds covered most of the sky.  Luckily, it only rained a little bit as we were landing.

Still, with winter here, it gets dark around 5pm, making our daylight hours very precious.  It also gets quite cold at night, and the water in the sink at this campsite is frozen.

We drove from Christchurch towards Mount Cook.  We stopped to pick up some food at a Pak N’ Save and grabbed a quick lunch.

It’s been a nice drive, albeit dark for most of it.  We stopped in Lake Tekapo and looked out over the dark lake.  (You couldn’t see anything, though, since it was night and the moon hadn’t quite come out yet.)  The ground was covered in snow, a stark contrast to the last time I was there.

Our van is pretty nifty.  It’s an Escape Camper van; it has three seats in the front, a bed with lots of storage in the back, and also a counter with sink, cooking supplies, and gas burner.  We haven’t really used it yet, but it will be much nicer than my typical travel meal: a PB&J for every meal.

My only qualm is that the engine is directly underneath the passenger seat.  This yields quite a bit of draft coming into the van.  In the summer this wouldn’t be bad, but it’s cold enough in the van without the draft coming in.  So, we’re stuck ramping the heat way up and making our already crappy gas mileage even worse.

We’re in Mount Cook for the night.  The DOC site is nearly deserted, with only three other cars for the night, as compared to the 20+ back in February.  Oh, and everything is covered in three inches of snow.

Mueller Lake

The beginning of the Hooker Valley Track near Mount Cook. I actually took this on Day 2, (since we didn't get here until it was past dark), but I figured I'd show you all the snow and stuff.

I’m hoping we sleep ok.  It’s pretty chilly in the van, but the blankets seem toasty.  We’ll see by morning!

See the full set on Flickr! (Photos will be uploaded as I go through each day.)