Mount Cook – Aoraki

Since my first attempt at walking the Hooker Valley Track dramatically failed* I have been keeping my fingers crossed ever since we started planning  that trip, hoping that we would hopefully, hopefully have good weather. However, we left Tekapo with a gigantic rain cloud hovering over and cold fog surrounding us. I guess you could say I was sliiiightly upset. Luckily, by the time we got to Mount Cook the sky opened up, leaving us with a bright blue sky and sunshine. Now that I have actually seen where I was walking (*insert awkward laughter*), I can definitely understand why the Hooker Valley Track is so popular; it truly is a great walk. The water in the lakes and rivers was so cold that it looked greyish blue, a very interesting colour. The best thing though was that the tops of the mountains were covered in snow, making them look as if they were covered with icing sugar. Even though it was obviously cold enough for the water to freeze and snow to fall, the sun still heated up the air around us enough to be fine in just a T-Shirt. New Zealand weather – I swear, after 10 months I still can’t wrap my mind around it. The track ends at Hooker lake. Its surface was frozen, much to our delight (I wonder how the other people there resisted the urge to lick the ice – we couldn’t). On the opposite end of the lake we saw the ice front of the glacier and, behind it, the indeed very impressing Mount Cook. It is huge. I mean, I have seen it rising above all the other mountains from the summit of Mount Somers, which is more than 300 kilometres away, so I knew it must be reasonably large. But actually standing in front of it (well, sort of anyways) makes you feel really, really small. By the way, Aoraki is with 3724 metres New Zealand’s (and Australia’s) highest mountain.

Anyways, I’m glad I gave Mount Cook a second shot as it definitely deserves a spot within the South Island’s top ten destinations. But one question remains – why on earth and space and time and all dimensions combined is it called Hooker Valley??!!


Rating

Hike:       ★★★★★ easy, mostly flat. 3 hours return
Scenery:    ★★★★★ excellent view on surrounding lakes and mountains (given the weather is good, haha)
Popularity: ★★★★★ heaps of tourists, doesn't feel very crowded though due to length of track

*Back in December, we must have picked the worst day in the entire history to do a walk. When we got there, it was pouring like nothing I’ve ever seen, it was bitter cold and on top of that the wind was blowing super strong. In fact it was so strong that one of my friends got blown against a rock and ended up with a huge bruise on her leg. Yep, that’s how bad it was. It didn’t even take us 3 minutes to be completely soaked and naturally we couldn’t see jack. Nevertheless, we couldn’t bear the the fact that we just invested a whole lot of petrol for nothing. So we walked, the whole track – 3 hours through a raging storm. What an experience. Possibly the worst in history of hiking.

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