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Wednesday 13 Mar 2013
Mount Cook, New Zealand

Rocky the Rockman, Jelly Squirms and very steep trails

Sir Edmund Hilliary and his climbing team spent months climbing in the Mount Cook area when training for their Everest attempts.  Lauren and I chose to stick to some of the easier trails and decided to walk up to the Hooker Valley Glacier Lake instead.  New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) seems to have done a good job at making the national parks accessible.  I found the walking trails were always well maintained and well signposted.  Having said that, there were a few inconsistencies in their estimation of walking times.  Some trails were marked with the one-way time and some with the return time, even on the same signpost, so we sometimes got caught out doing much longer walks than we realised.  Or maybe we just walk too slowly.

The Hooker Valley walk was signed as 2 hours, which turned out to be the one-way time (and it took us longer than that to reach the lake), but the walk was enjoyable and not too taxing, so it didn't matter too much.  We were lucky enough to get another beautiful day, which gradually burned the clouds off the peaks to reveal the Sefton glacier as we walked.  Halfway along we too a quick detour for a view over the Mueller Glacier terminal lake and a photo opportunity.  I climbed up onto a boulder for my photo, then glanced behind me on my way back to see a group of Chinese trying (and failing) to do the same thing. heh heh heh...

We ate our lunch overlooking the Hooker glacial lake.  There is something quite surreal about being dressed in shorts and t-shirt, eating Jelly Squirms (sour jelly snake sweets) next to a lake containing icebergs! Afterwards we headed further round the lake towards the terminal face of the glacier itself.  In quite a few places, I have seen small towers of stones that people have built wherever there are rocky beaches or river beds.  The edge of the lake was covered in good flat stones and slates, so we decided to build our own towers.  Lauren then turned hers into Rocky the Rockman! We amused ourselves for ages with this task and had a fairly respectable looking rockman, before it all went horribly wrong... Lots of giggling and photo poses later, we left a 2' rock tower (mine) and a big pile of stones (Rocky the now ex-Rockman) by the stream and continued on our way.

On the way back, we bumped into Christian and Anika, two Germans I had met a month ago in the Bay of Islands, and arranged to go on a longer walk with them the next day.  We then followed another path up to Kea Point, a lookout high above Mueller glacial lake from the opposite side.  This glacier was so dirty that you'd almost miss it completely, thinking it was just a rocky valley, if it wasn't for the lake at the bottom. By the time we got back, we'd been walking for nearly 7 hours, so decided to do a shorter walk the next day instead of joining Christian and Anika on their 7 hour hike.

The 'shorter walk' we chose was another of DOC's sense-of-humour sign posts:  Red Tarns walk, 2 hour return.  Governor's Bush, 45 minutes.  Both of which are technically true, but the clever signage meant we walked the whole of the Governor's Bush trail before reaching the start of the Red Tarns trail.  We then discovered the Red Tarns trail was, in fact, pretty much vertical! It was nothing but BIG steps traversing up the face of Mount Sebastepol in the full sun.  Utterly exhausting, especially for the vertically-challenged amongst us.  We resorted to playing the Lumineers' 'Ho Hey' on Lauren's phone for climbing motivation - definitely one of my songs of New Zealand now.

The view from the top was amazing, but the unexpected climb was a shock to the system and to our sore legs from the day before...  We rewarded ourselves with Jelly Squirms at the top to give us the energy for the walk down.  Strangely, this took barely 20 minutes compared with the 90 minute climb up!  The best reward was the vanilla ice-cream and chocolate fudge sauce treat on our balcony afterwards!

That night was quiz night in the bar so we teamed up with friends who had just arrived on the next Stray Bus and took on the locals.  It was actually quite a hard quiz, but despite not getting any of the New Zealand political, entertainment or history questions, we somehow came second and won ourselves a $30 bar tab. Nice! Cheers to Lauren, Anna, Laura, Rory, Scott and Hugh.

 

 

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Zobeedoo's Big World Adventure, Part I

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Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman


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    Mount Cook

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    Tasman glacier lake
  • Tasman...

    Mount Cook

    New Zealand

    Tasman glacier lake
  • Tasman...

    Mount Cook

    New Zealand

    Tasman glacier lake