Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How high is Mount Cook?

Tuesday 26th October 2010

MP3 track of the day: The breaking of the fellowship of the ring - Lord of the Rings

Weather: A beautiful sunny day

As I was heading to the bus stop in Queenstown this morning I took one last look at Furg Burger; I had gone to Furg last night for tea and luckily I didn't receive a public holiday extra charge. I took the burger back to the hostel where I ate it in the kitchen, it didn't disappoint. However that was yesterday and now I had to concentrate on getting to the bus stop on time.

I was getting a 'Great Sights' coach and I arrived on time, however it was a shame my driver didn't. Ten minutes after we should have departed my diver, and associate, arrived on the scene in quite a hurry. I wasn't to bothered though as I new we would make up the time and my driver was a very pleasant fellow.

After a few hotel pick ups we were off; once again there was running commentary but it was quite sparse at the beginning of the trip, I took this opportunity to read up on Mount Cook.

“...With a near-monopoly on services and an almost captive market, it should come as no surprise that prices are higher than elsewhere in the region. If you're watching the pennies, commute in from Twizel or Lake Tekapo, or stock up on groceries before you arrive...”

Bugger! I wish I had read this yesterday, or the day before. I had an image in my head of Mount Cook Village being similar to Franz Joseph with a couple of supermarkets, a take-away and souvenir shops however it didn't sound like it and I hadn't stocked up on groceries at all. I looked into my food bag; half a packet of crisps and two cereal bars … oh and ½ a litre of P&J (a fizzy drink over here which is quite nice). Well there was nothing I could do about it now; it was either going to be an expensive two days or maybe the coach would stop near a supermarket on one of its breaks.

The coach trip was lovely; I was sat right at the front and so I had views in front and to the right of me. The driver started to pick up the commentary as we headed away from Queenstown, and his assistant translated it into Japanese for two Japanese tourists on the bus.

Our first stop was the vineyard I stopped at on my way to Queenstown about a week ago. This time I did purchase a packet of strawberry nougat which helped with the food kitty. I could have purchased all sorts of fruit and gone 'fruitairian' for the week, but you had to buy the fruit in the box load and what was I going to do with fifteen apples?

After this we headed back onto the road and into the mountains. The views started to become more and more spectacular until our next and proper break stop. This was a thirty minute stop at a cafe and, I'm happy to say, I spied a small supermarket within walking distance. I jumped out of the coach and headed straight to the supermarket. Small was the correct word, they didn't have much stock but I managed to pick up 4 ½ litres of liquid, a big packet of crisps, some biscuits and some breakfast bars. So that was breakfast and most of lunch sorted, I'll have to purchase tea when I arrive.

The rest of the trip consisted of commentary and winding our way through the heart of the south island, having a couple of photo stops at the beautiful scenery that was all around us … it was a lovely trip. Almost at Mount Cook we had to slow down for sheep which were in the middle of the road; it took a little time for us to pass the flock due to some sheep taking a while to decide which side of the road they wanted to stand on.

The weather had changed constantly during the trip, from dense cloud, to dark cloud to eventually beautiful sunny skies and a few fluffy white clouds. Mount Cook was out for all to see which, my driver informed me, was very lucky as two days ago this whole area was covered in cloud. This made up for Mount McKinley in Alaska being hidden from my view back in June and I knew that I had to make the most of the good weather. I put my bags down in my room and went straight out into the Mount Cook National Park.

The weather was beautiful, I followed the Kea Point track which should have only taken around one hour and thirty minutes return; however it was such a lovely track that it took me a lot longer as I stopped many times for photos. Once I reached Kea Point I was a little disappointed as there was a huge natural wall of rock sediment blocking my view to the bottom of Mount Cook; still I had a great view at one of Mount Cooks neighboring mountains ranges and I also found the track that I would be taking tomorrow (the Hookner trail) which, so I've been told, leads you all the way to the foot of Mount Cook where you can actually touch the Hooker Glacier and see bits of it float in the nearby lake.

Once I had finished taking photos I headed back to the hostel. It didn't take me half as long to get back as it did going, but before I came back I went into 'The Hermitage' hotel … an eyesore of a building (though not as bad as the hotel at Lake Louise, Canada). I went in to have a look around and peer into the shop. Once back at the hostel I checked their small shop and was pleasantly surprised that a frozen pizza would only cost around $10. Still it had already been an expensive day with my coach ride ($55), accommodation ($31), Strawberry nougat ($5.50), Supermarket shopping ($18) and a hot chocolate with carrot cake ($8), which was very nice too, putting me at a grand total of $132.50 with internet charges added. Now normally this wouldn't be a problem as I would have another two full days to bring that amount down; however I'm only staying here two nights and then I'm back on the coach. I have decided to only have two nights here (which, looking at the walks around here, is enough to see a fair chunk) as its very expensive; I think I'll also only have two nights in Lake Tekapo to as I reckon the prices will be about the same there. The sooner I get to Christchurch the happier my wallet will be.

Toodle Pip!


  1. Yeah it's brilliant down here, everything you could want.

    You and Melissa would love it; beautiul scenery, easy to get around via public transport (as long as you can access the internet that is) and, best of all for you, birds (the feathered version) are New Zealands main wildlife. Come on down! It's ace!