Aoraki – Mount Cook

People keep asking us; what was the best places you stayed in (hotel, hostel, campsite etc)? It’s a hard question to answer, as there are so many wonderful places to choose from. But as far as best campsites go, the decision is easy; Mount Cook DOC site in Mount Cook National Park. Not only because of the raw natural beautiful surroundings, but it was the campsite which gave us the most camping vibes. A sense of living in the wild and being at one with nature. When you can hear the rumble and thunder from the nearby Mueller Glacier whilst eating your porridge in the crisp chilly morning. And by the time you take the first sip of your morning coffee, the suns first rays reaches over the mountaintops, instantly warming you up, how could you not love camping here?!

Even though you share a flat space of gravel with other camper vans, it still gives you ‘that feeling’ of wilderness. This is probably one campsite where you’re actually better off pitching a tent, as you are free to pitch them up around the wild grass nearby the campsite, making it even more like you’re camping in the wild.

The drive there was yet again filled with beautiful landscapes and views. You drive along the insanely turquoise Lake Pukaki and you can see the snowcapped Mount Cook ranges as a perfect backdrop. We struggled to believe that what we saw in front of us was real, it looks too perfect and too beautiful to be real. It looks more like a perfectly made up movie set, there’s no wonder Peter Jackson used so much of New Zealand in his films, it’s the perfect backdrop for a fantasy land.

Mt. Cook DOC site was one of the few places where we stayed two nights, had it not been for other commitments we had the days after, I could easily have stayed there a few more nights. We spent the first day doing the half day ‘Hooker Valley Walk’. It takes you past the Alpine Memorial, a memorial to all those whose lives have been lost in the surrounding Southern Alps. The path also takes you across two swing bridges over Hooker River, past a cute little lodge and you will eventually end up by the Hooker Terminal Lake.

We sat down by the lake for our lunch, the sun was shining and my feet were rather hot, so I couldn’t resist the temptation of dipping my feet in the ice cold lake, where tiny icebergs were floating by. It was freezing in the water, my ‘guesstimation’ is that the water was around 5C. After lunch, we walked carefully along the edge of the lake as far as we could reach, where the glacier terminal meets the lake. On our return walk to the village we met a few big groups of hikers, so it was definitely a good choice to start the walk early.

When we got back to the campsite we drove to the village and paid a visit to the I-Site and part museum. Wich had an array of  information and historic gear on show from the area. With stories of the great Sir Edmund Hillary, not only did he perform many expeditions around Mt. Cook region, but he was the first explorer, along with Tenzig Norgay, to ever reach the top of Mount Everest on 29 May 1953. There was also a very interesting piece on Freda du Faur, the first woman to ever climb Mt Cook on 3 December 1910. That’s what I call Girl Power! It was also fascinating to see the type of equipment that was used back in the early 1900’s, all the heavy gear they carried, the shoes and clothes they wore whilst climbing up these mountains. With their only security being a rope tied around their waists, yikes!

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