21 October 2014. Tuesday.
I woke up early to catch the first light over Lake Tekapo.
Almost no cloud… very quickly the place was completely lighted up.
By the time we were ready to set off, the sun was beaming aggressively…. plenty of UV light !
The drive to Mount Cook is 105 KM one way and was easy and scenic.
Our first sighting of Mount Cook across Lake Pukaki.
It was nice view, going trough pine forest, coastal road and semi-arid grass patches
and this picture has it all and with majestic Mount Cook in the background.
Approaching Mount Cook…. approaching an enormous giant.
Arriving at Mt Cook Village…It was snow capped peak, icy valley and very rough gravel deposit everywhere.
We had late breakfast at Hermitage Hotel. The setting is superb.
We had our Glacier Explorer ticket. While waiting for the bus, we explored the Hotel ground…. 5 deg C with bright sunshine. Very enjoyable sunlight.
The bus ferried us through Tasman Valley
The valley is several Kilometer wide and according to the guide, several years ago, this valley was occupied by glacier. When the ice melted, what was leftover were very rocky deposits created by heavy ice grinding over rocks.
The mountain on both side of valley look majestic.
Stopping point for us to alight from bus.
The path to glacier lake was very rocky…
The group enjoyed the view while going very slowly.
Near the glacier lake
Zoomed in on the opposite bank…
Getting into the boat
This is the boatman
The boat bought us near floating ice…
A closed up on one of the floating ice….and we caught something….
No… this was not iceberg…. it was an ice bird
The speed boat headed towards the glacier front….a nice reflection of ice capped peak can be seen in the quiet water.
close up on the glacier front… I thought it looked considerable dirty ice.
Our pictures at the Glacier front.
The boat stopped about hundred meters from the glacier front and did not get any closer. Accordingly if one of glacier ice fall, it can create wave that overturn our little boat and these glacier water are full of rock particles that make it look milky- not drinkable and very unhealthy.
Shortly, the boat made the return trip…
Near the jetty and start of our rocky Tasman Valley Hike to our bus.
Near the bus waiting point… looking back and I saw many people struggling with rocky walkway. I had opinion that the glacier explorer experience will be more enjoyable if the tour was conducted in late winter months with large volume floating ice all over glacier lake.
Our picture at Tasman Valley.
The bus took us back to Hermitage Hotel. We started our short drive to Mt Cook Village.
Look back at Hermitage Hotel… micro size against the giant behind.
We had lunch at Old Mountaineer’s Cafe, Bar and Restaurant.
Setting off to Hooker Valley. In front of us….Snow cap mountain under midday sun. Lovely!
At the starting point of Hooker Valley Hike.
Small animals dashing in the bushes
Here we go…..
The background mountains are rugged.
30 minutes on…. at Rumble and Crash Look Out Point.
heading towards the first bridge…
From the bridge, we could see the water flow was very aggressive.
When we planned for Hooker Valley Hike… we hoped to catch a picture as the one below. We found none. Several years on, as I re-examined the picture, I gathered this picture was taken from this first bridge probably during winter time.
A longer stretch of walking after the first bridge… a lot of meandering path followed by long stretch of glacier lake coast walk and a climb to a high point overseeing the glacier lake.
we were rewarded by changing landscape…
Stunning view of glacier lake and snow capped mountain…
approaching second suspension bridge
At the bridge… upstream and downstream valley…
After crossing the second bridge…we were into a valley with flowing streams…
The mountains beyond the valley
Approaching the third Bridge
The last stretch….. Bravo ! we were at destination Hooker Lake.
Close up on Hooker Lake… Glacier Front and the near coast.
It was nearly 1500 hrs… and lake sparkles a little under the intense sunlight.
zoomed in on the floating ice…
Our pictures at destination.
Had some good rest and we started our return walk.
Having walk through the way once…. we were more leisure and going with renewed energy….
Along the way, we met a very fit mother going at good speed.
and trying to take more pictures of snowy peak…
The retreated glacier valley
overwhelming mountain wall…
The blue ice high above
Nice running stream…
The widening valley…
It was past 1700 hrs when we completed the hooker valley walk. My wife rate this attraction as 8 out of 10. This is an absolute wonder for Photographers.
At the Hooker valley Car Park…a number of overnight camper gathered at the car park.
Driving towards Lake Pukaki…. thick cloud started to roll in. Portion of the terrain was stained with orange.
The air was relatively still…. and we saw some light reflection over Lake Pukaki.
We make a stop at one corner of Lake Pukaki, awaiting for the last ray to drift below the horizon. (I always believe a mixed of cloud and sunshine make a perfect sunset and it probably last 10-15 minutes just before the sun completely disappear)
The cloud started to turn intense orange.
We noticed the changing colors over Lake Pukaki.
We positioned our camera for the colors of sunset over Lake Pukaki.
The sun was below the Horizon when we headed back to Lake Tekapo.
After dinner at Lake Tekapo Village Center, had some wash up and at 2300 hrs…. we set off to Earth and Sky Observatory. The gate was locked. We looked up…. the milky way was spectacular….I hoped to take a picture that look close to the following…
Unfortunately I can open up the shutter of my camera for 30 secs… and the best I had is few white spots…
End of Day 18 : Mount Cook and the snow capped mountain range is spectacular. Hermitage Hotel is a true Gem in Mount Cook Village. The Glacier explorer can be more interesting if the amount of floating ice is several times more than what we saw. Hooker Valley walk was the best and I recommended to friends who make trips to this part of the world. Not forgetting Earth and Sky…. I will equipped myself with better camera on my next trip.
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Continue to : NZ South Island Day 19