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Day 15: Mount Cook

Day 15 - Tuesday 05 March - Take my breath away…

We had a long bus journey passing through the rocky Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell village, winding upward to Lindis Pass and across the plains of the McKenzie highland (named after James McKenzie – outlaw). On the way, we stopped at the famous Kawarau Bridge Bungee station; the first ever commercial bungee jump founded in the 80s by A J Hackett and Henry van Asch. We watched from the coffee shop... Maybe next time...


We travelled onwards, stopping again at the 'Pioneer (water-powered) Energy' station. The Southern Alps lay to the left of us in constant sight as we carried on through 'Waitaki District' to our destination at Mount Cook National Park. We took a few coffee-stops along the way; and a lunch stop at a Merino wool outlet where they offered Sheep Shearing demonstrations. We didn't stop for the demo. I don't think anyone on the bus really wanted to see sheep being sheared, though sheep form a huge part of New Zealand’s industry.

Well Aoraki Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest Peak at 3764 metres) is absolutely spectacular and the stuff of fantasy, but real. The snow-capped top of the mountain looks like a ‘roof’ and it’s so high that it peeks out through the top of the clouds. This was truly one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. The evening was drawing in and the clouds were tumbling over the mountain ridge next to Cook; rolling over the cold snow on top, but curling back upward with the heat from the valley below. We went quickly to the Visitors' Centre to find out about the local walks, checked into our hotel and went for a relatively short ‘easy(!)’ walk on the ‘Governor’s Bush Walk’ before dinner in the evening. Though described as 'easy', the walk still involved climbing up steep steps for about 20 minutes. Up and down again and many more steps to come the next day. Dinner was nice. We had a very healthy meal of salmon and vegetables as we gazed through the windows in a hypnotic state at the mountain peaks surrounding us. This was definitely the best view I have ever had from a hotel window.


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