Saturday, March 30, 2013

Driving to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Today we have a fairly long drive from Christchurch to Mt. Cook. Google had planned a route that headed back toward the demolished inner city. I took issue with that and put us on a simpler route out of town. Only one time did William pause at an intersection and say “Which way do I go?” I answered with all the confidence I could muster “Right.” Success.

We drive between the same hedgerows we could see dividing the fields from the air. The hedgerows are 5-20 feet wide and are great refuges for small animals and great windbreaks. When the fields need new hedgerows they replant trees or bushes.
Farm fields behind these hedgerows

When we can see fields we see lots of beets or beetroot as they say here. William is going to have to learn to like beets better than he does. He pulled the slices of beet off of his steak sandwich the other day in disgust and gave them to me. Good thing I like beets.

We also see lots of corn, hay, alfalfa, pasture land full of cows, sheep, hogs! and alpaca. As we get into the foothills we see lots of patchcut forests.
We lunched by the side of Lake Pukaki.
Mt. Cook is in the distance

We drive up to the Hermitage Hotel as the Visitor Center is next to it. Very fancy hotel with mountain views. Rooms start at only $350.

We talk about doing an hour hike. It looks like the start is near our rooms, so we go to check in first.
GRL in front of our room

As we set out William goes to get specific directions to the trailhead and is talked into a different hike. I think if we had actually done all of this hike it would have been 4 hours instead of the 2 hours we spent hiking over rocks and coarse gravel. There were three suspension bridges. These were very strong bridges but they still make me nervous. I went over the first one and almost to the second. William went over 2 and decided he had gone far enough.

above the first lake, Lake Mueller, and bridge

The first bridge

The second bridge

Mt Cook with Mt Tasman behind

Resting near the end
I took this further away and magnified
Silly duck resting at the edge of the parking lot.

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