The Aoraki – Canterbury
The weather looks lenient for the next few days, it’s time for us to leave the Otago coastal area and Oamaru, after filling up on food and gas, to head to Lake Pukaki and Aoraki (Mount Cook) in the Canterbury area.
Elephant rocks and fossils
With such a name, difficult for us to resist to this stop. Shortly after leaving Oamaru, it’s naturally that we decided to make a little detour to discover these famous elephant rocks. It’s in the middle of a private pasture that we discover these rocks with voluptuous curves, amusing but unconvincing even if the shapes and hue remind elephant silhouettes. A little further on a track, another point indicates the presence of whale fossils, again if you are not told about it you don’t find anything transcendent. So, after that, we decided to go directly to the town of Twizel and Lake Pukaki.
We spend our first night in the Canterbury area in the Wardell lake free campsite, under a pretty pine forest where many rabbits run. The next day, the weather has changed and it appears that the Mont cook will remain foggy all day long. Never mind, we adapt our program to take the departure of the peninsula walk on the lake Tekapo’s shores, a nice path without landscape variations. However, the beauty of the place and the turquoise blue color of the lake’s waters are breathtaking and quite enough to enjoy the walk. We also found a nice little place not far from there, to picnic on the roof of the van taking advantage of the view.
In the afternoon, we decide to ride a gravel road that is notified as being of interest for the beautiful landscapes lovers. A road that took us a while, but really pretty. We meander along a wide track through the private grounds strewn with a few large farms and herds, then, in the distance, slowly appear the mountain ranges surrounding Mount Cook. There are some views that deserve a photo stop, then the road ends on the shores of the Pukaki lake with the famous Aoraki in the background.
It’s along the shores from the Breamar road to Pukaki that we found some beautiful free camp spots. We had a small swim in the frozen blue lake, meal with orange sunset lights on the mountains and taht was an ideal place to observe the twinkling stars. The dream !
The day after, the weather was on our side and we decided to go greet the Aoraki, commonly known as Mont cook. We headed to the Aoraki village, where you can park to start the various hikes around the mount. The road that lead to the hikes departure runs along Pukaki lake on its entire length and delivers absolutely breathtaking views.
Aoraki/ Mount cook
After parking in Aoraki village, which is already in a spectacular and privileged environment, we quickly took the start of the hike of the Mount cook, with a determined step to escape the tourist bus. The walk itself doen’t require physical training but takes you cross landscapes of rare intensity. The entire Hooker Valley, from Mueller Lake overhung by glaciers to Hooker Lake below Mount Cook, is a treat. We literally let ourselves absorbed by the magnificence, the splendor and the immensity of the snow-capped mountains. Between hanging bridges, glaciers, lakes and powerful rivers, even the cloud that will remain planted on the mount Cook top at our arrival will not tarnish the emotion that has invaded us all along this journey. How wonderful !
Tasman glacier lake
After a picnic in Aoraki village, we decided to hit the road to take the start of the Tasman Lake walk and its point of view. After climbing a few steps you will find a viewpoint overlooking the entire valley as well as Tasman Lake. Unfortunately, there is nothing blue here anymore because of the rapid melting of the glacier, which is no longer present enough to bring its polar color to the water. It’s also a terrible twinge in our heart to see with our own eyes the extent of global warming on the planet. We had already observed it on the previous glaciers visited, but the Tasman Lake glacier leaves a huge dusty crater that is easy to contemplate such as a gigantic scar in this wonderful scenery.
We spent another night contemplating the particularly spectacular starry sky from the Lake Pukaki shores. There is also an observatory on the Lake Tekapo outskirts, whith entrance fee, for astronomy enthusiasts. Then we took the road to Christchurch for refueling before going for an unplanned loop to the famous Arhur pass National Park. On the road we only made a short stop at “Garage 66” a charming place in the American style between collector’s pieces and woodcarvers‘s skills. In any case it can be said that the Mount Cook region has kept its promises in terms of environmental wonders, wild and spectacular beauty that we hope to see preserved for centuries and centuries.