Sunday, December 15, 2013

Captivating Mount Cook

Good morning! The sight of the quaint Queenstown and the sound of the chirping birds was refreshing. It was a beautiful Sunday here in Queenstown. We were back in our free and easy style to have a lazy morning before we set off to Mount Cook National Park. 

Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie is situated in the centre of New Zealand's majestic South Island. Nothing could prepare us for out-of-this-world scenery. The remarkable turquoise blue lakes, valleys of emerald green mountains and awesome snow capped Southern Alps stretching across the western horizon.

Along the way, we were captivated by the natural landscape and scenery of the Mackenzie region. The blue glacial lakes and tussock-clad hills were mesmerising.

At Mount Cook Village, we took a short walk in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. There we stood in awe of the towering Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain at 3,754 metres above sea level. 

Thereafter we made our way down the mountain and stopped at Heliworks for a helicopter ride to see Mount Cook up close and personal. Our pilot, Dave, a native, took us up via the Tasman valley, sharing his childhood memories of the place. On the helicopter, we witnessed the effects of the extreme forces of nature as massive glaciers scoured the land leaving a trail of lakes and rivers across the landscape. The highlight for the kids was the snow landing where they could play with the snow. At the landing, the landscape was white as far as the eyes could reach. The white was almost blinding.

On board the helicopter.

White snow and blue glaciers.

Playtime at the snow-capped mountain.

We were lucky as when we touched down, the weather condition had changed which made flying not possible.

Next we continued our drive and stopped by Mt Cook Alpine salmon for fresh salmon. We had the freshness salmon that tasted like a delicacy for the royalty - clean and delicate. This is due the salmons being farmed at high altitude with extremely cold, fast flowing water and having plenty of exercise. Only wilderness exists between the farm and the mountains, Mount Cook Alpine Salmon  is the highest altitude salmon farm in the world. Besides good food, there was also great scenery by Lake Pukake.

We then made our way to Mount John University Observatory where we had an unmatched aerial view of Lake Tekapo. We also did the Tekapo Walk.

Thereafter we proceeded to our next port of call, Christchurch. Even after we had left, the magnificent Mount Cook continued to linger in my mind.

"Falling in love with mountains is like any other love. You may, before, have been stirred by a voice or an alluring shape seen in a crowd, but there comes a time when you are suddenly aware of someone uniquely and bewitching different. So is with mountains.

Michael Gill, 1969 on a mountaineer's love affair"

I would remember the sights and sounds of Mount Cook for a long, long time.

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