NZ Day 8: Mount Cook national park- Aoraki

Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and it attracts adventure tourists, hikers, mountain climbers etc at all times and big names like Sir Edmund Hillary and Mark Inglis have trotted up on this peak. There is a Hermitage Hotel at the base with fantastic vistas, but even before you actually get to the base town, there is a stunning drive along the lake Pukaki and it’s amazing blue water on your right.
As you pass along, you get closer views of the ranges on the drive, and are convinced that the destination has to be just amazing
At the base itself, we strolled around the Hermitage Hotel which is quite a historic heritage of the area, and has a museum in memory of Sir Edmund Hillary
The Hermitage Hotel:
The views from Hermitage:
The Sir Edmund Hillary memorial:
There are the original planes and vehicles that the early adventurers used, and some that were used in the rescue operation for Mark Inglis
At the front they have Sir Edmund Hillary’s statue looking at the peak
Sir Edmund Hillary was a big man- this picture here is printed in life-size so you can compare yourself to him in size- I think I am bigger than him on the horizontal axis at least!
There is a few kilometres long unsealed mountain road that leads to a point where you can start a hike to view the glaciers. I took the camper van to this place- it was clearly a mistake to drive this manual big 2WD mini-bus on this gravel surface on narrow strips and in mountainous curves and I was very very scared- but I had to do this. Mind you, if I was to be stuck there, or even have a tyre punctured, It’d be a long time for help to arrive and it’d not have been allowed by the camper van rental company anyways and I could be charged some fines may be? Also being off-road the roadside assist won’t cover me and neither would the travel insurance.
Well, what’s life without madness? About 40 minutes of drive and some 30-40 minutes of an up-hill walk through unstable rocks and a high risk of rolled ankles we walked through these vast vistas:
Radhika was rightly and persistently angry with me for not listening to her and taking all these stupid risks driving here and then walking through this trek- and I think I agreed to her when we reached at the peak at the promised Glacier views:
At the top we saw this really depressing view of a dull dark melted glacier that was. This wasn’t a surprise to the local tourism department and they even had an explanation on the board here.
We learned the ill-effects of global warming the hard way- after taking lots of risks and having exercised ourselves to a fair bit.
On the way back, we spotted one of these Rock Wrens hopping along:
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