Wednesday, March 22, 2006 (continued)
After the Key Summit hike I got right in the car and headed back to Te Anau, and then continued on towards Mount Cook. Looking at the map, you may wonder why I didn't just drive from Wanaka directly to Milford Sound... it's because there is no road that goes through - there are unpassable mountains in that area. I almost made it to Mount Cook on this day. I ended up camping at a campground in Twizel - about a hour before Mount Cook.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
In the morning I woke up to a couple of peacocks strutting around the campground. As I was taking this picture to the left, that one peacock looked like she was seriously thinking about going IN my tent! I shooed her away before she actually got in there. I can't imagine what those claws might have done to my tent floor if she'd gotten in and I had to chase her around to get her out.
I had another fuel fiasco. I drove almost all the way to Mount Cook, only to find that the only reliable source for gas was back in Twizel, so I went all the way back rather than risk it. That was so frustrating for me... but luckily it was a nice drive.
Mount Cook is absolutely amazing, and I was able to drive up very close to its base. Again, the two photos to the left don't do it justice, but they give you an idea. The view of Mount Cook in the top photo to the left appeared around a corner... the clouds broke (except for a few lingering wisps) and I thoughts this was incredible. I could've cropped out the sign posts, but I thought they added a bit of scale to the photo so I left them in.
I particularly liked how Mount Cook DRIPS with glaciers with that bluish color. The bottom photo to the left shows the glaciers more clearly... can you see the blue?
Also, there are huge fields at the base of Mount Cook. In the photos below you can see how suddenly it goes from completely flat to rugged rocky mountains. I think that is what makes New Zealand so beautiful... contrasts. By the way, you can see that these photos kinda go together... there's a third photo with more fields between them actually... and Mount Cook is to the left of the left photo.
Lord of the Rings fans, these fields are where the big battle happens in Return of the King.
I only spent a few hours here - just enough time to do a short hike and shop in a visitor center shop. My arches were killing me so I couldn't have handled too much more hiking anyway. Besides, I was anxious to get to Kaikoura to be sure I could have 2-3 days there of marine activities - including sleeping on the beach! So if/when I go back to New Zealand, I'd like to spend more time here as well.
(on to The Alps/Arthur's Pass)