Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mt. Cook and the Hooker Valley Hike

After our Mt. John Observatory hike, we drove on, around beautiful Lake Pukaki (another glacier-fed and hence beautifully-colored lake right next to Lake Tekapo) and spent a night on its shores at the Glentanner campground in the shadow of our next destination, Mt. Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. We probably could have camped even closer and cheaper at the White Horse Hill campground where Colleen and Steve stayed, but jet lag and sun exposure from our hike hit us big time and we had to stop driving.


Tim having a much deserved beer in our campervan, with Mt. Cook's peak peeking out above the hill behind us:


Lake Pukaki visible just past the trees:


Sunrise the next morning:


Me, enjoying some coffee and trying to stay warm (it was so cold!!):



Fueled by coffee and some of New Zealand's amazing yogurt (thanks for the tip, Colleen! we liked the yogurt from The Collective best, passionfruit being my favorite flavor), we headed toward Mt. Cook and the Hooker Valley track trailhead. Things looked promising as we drove:


We got started fairly early, thankfully, as this particular hike got a bit crowded as we were on our way back.  It was a holiday weekend, though, and one of the last few warm days, which explains the fervor a bit.  Here's Tim at the first viewpoint of the entire Hooker Valley, including Hooker Lake and Hooker River:


The walk includes crossing several swing bridges.  Let me tell ya, New Zealand loves a swing bridge.  Almost as much as it loves a one lane bridge... we drove over approximately 200 of those, give or take, during our 2 week stint.

Lots of pictures of Tim from behind:


The moon + snow-capped peak?  Yes, please:


Here's my panorama... 360 degrees of awesome views:




The clouds and/or snow blowing off the peaks was pretty neat (ps: all of these mountains are called, collectively, "The Southern Alps."):


After maybe an hour and a half of hiking, we reached Hooker Lake, the lake formed at the base of Hooker Glacier.  It's a weird milky grey color, full of huge chunks of ice, and, as one might expect, quite cold.  The strange/cloudy color is from the rock flour/glacial flour, the silty bit of rock ground off the by the glacier and suspended in the water.  The glacier is that dirty bit in the distance at the lake's edge:


Brrrr... it was super windy and thus chilly down by the glacial lake:



Some shots from the walk back:


Purty!  Hooker Valley = two thumbs up!


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