The Southern Alps and Mt. Cook
few days in the very pleasant town of Geraldine getting caught up with my
website, then the skies cleared, so I
headed back down to the Southern Alps to see Mount Cook National Park. Not
surprisingly, Mount Cook, the tallest peak in New Zealand at about 11,000', is
located here and I'm really glad I
waited until the sun came out to visit. The campground -- like
most other New Zealand campgrounds, just a grassy field without many facilities
and no picnic tables, but very cheap -- was really packed, but I camped here anyway
because the alpine surroundings were just so darn beautiful.
the 4-hour hike up to Hooker Glacier the next day, during which I passed
approximately one-half of the entire population of Japan. Once I got up to
the glacier, I discovered that it was pretty dirty and not that interesting, but the hike through the alpine
meadows was amazing and I was surrounded on all sides not only by Japanese
camera-toting tourists, but also by cirques, aretes,
moraines, and all kinds of other glacial landforms that I learned about at the University of Wisconsin. If you like glacial landforms like I do, Mt. Cook National Park
is a terrific place to visit, even if you're not Japanese.
left: After two rainy days in
Geraldine, the skies cleared so I retraced my steps and headed back down to the "Southern Alps."
This time I could actually see them.
center: The bright blue waters of
Lake Tekapo. That color is from the glacial "flour," or ground
rock that's in the water. This part of the central South Island is really
dry, though the area a few miles west of here gets several feet of rain each year.
Talk about a rainshadow!
right: I've seen tour buses everywhere on this trip. There are
LOTS of tourists in New Zealand now... including me.
left: Driving up to Mt. Cook, the
tallest peak in New Zealand. Lake Pukaki is in the distance.
center: After I spent a month in New Zealand, the
weather was finally nice enough so that I could set up my tent and camp.
This is in Mt. Cook National Park.
right: The view from my campsite at Mt.
Cook National Park.
left: On the way up to Hooker
Glacier; this is one of many swing bridges that I've
hiked across during the past few weeks. They're a lot of fun.
center: The Mueller River area was covered by a giant sheet
of ice only a few hundred years ago.
right: Flowers on the trail.
left: The dirty Hooker Glacier
(right) and Mt. Cook. Note the icebergs floating in the lake.
right: Mt. Cook, at just over 11,000 feet, is about as high
as Oregon's Mt. Hood. It's also at about the same latitude, around 45
Travels (2001-02) >
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New Zealand and Cook Island Stories > The Southern
Alps and Mt. Cook