I had been planning on bypassing Aoraki Mount Cook and then I looked at my pictures, one of which is my favourite of the whole trip and knew I had to backtrack and share a little bit.
It was wild and windy when we arrived with gale force winds, horizontal rain and mist covered mountains. It did slightly let up the following morning but the rain and mist soon returned, thankfully the wind not as much. If you’d stood outside, the evening we arrived, you would have ended up like one of the possible governesses in Mary Poppins. Not a chance of going out to explore. I hunkered down and hoped that the morning would be fine enough for me to head out and explore.
I was in luck and rose to find the sun streaming through the windows, didn’t last long but it was enough to make my decision to stay another night and get out the door to begin the Hooker Valley Track. I walked from The Hermitage Hotel to the official start of the hike adding an extra hour to the 4hour walk. Walking between the Southern Alps was humbling. I had a full rainbow arching over the valley floor as I ambled my way to the start of the walk.
Aoraki, translating to Cloud in the Sky, according to Mauri mythology is the eldest of the three sons of Raki, the Sky. When Aoraki and this two brothers were heading back to their homeland their waka (canoe) flipped over and the three brothers clambered on top of the canoe and waited to be rescued. However, time passed and the brothers grew old as they waited, becoming the Southern Alps. Aoraki became the tallest of the mountains in the range and is the tallest mountain in New Zealand.
The walk to the viewpoint was completely worth the rain, wind and swing bridges along the route. Smokey coloured rivers, local flowers spotting the landscape, the snow capped MacKenzie range with Aoraki in front of you was epic. I even saw my first Hare.
After the Hooker Valley Walk I did the short Kea Point walk, which is only an hour return from the parking lot. It winds through shrubbery and a gradual incline until you are standing in front of the Mueller Glacier moraine wall. Then later that afternoon once the next Stray Bus arrived we all visited the viewing point at the base of the Tasman Glacier where you get a panoramic view over the whole valley floor and the village.
I left the following morning with the STRAY bus to head to Rangitata for the evening so glad that I had stayed the extra day there and had the opportunity to view the spectacular landscape that is the McKenzie Range and Hooker Valley. I can only imagine what it would be like on a clear day!