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Day 28 – Omarama to Geraldine

November 12, 2012

Our aim for today was to travel to Mount Cook Village in anticipation that we would be able to view Mount Cook NZ’s highest mountain. After a fair amount of rainfall last evening God was incredibly gracious as the weather was good with lot’s of blue sky and high cloud as we set off. However we knew that we had around 100km to travel and that the Mount Cook region because it is so high is notorious for being in a low cloud cover for a high percentage of the year.

Imagine our excitement (maybe you can’t but I can tell you we were) when after travelling on state highway 8 for around 50km with a range of snow covered mountains on our left we turned on to highway 80 which is the only road into the Mount Cook National Park and as we came over a rise to see in front of us one of the most stunning views I have ever experienced. Laid out in front of us was the blue waters of Lake Pukaki with Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the distance with it’s snowy peaks with some cloud but with Mount Cook majestically standing high above those around it.

The satnav was indicating we had about a further 30mins to go before we arrived. It actually took us more like 50mins as we kept stopping to take pictures and admire God’s awesome creation. I kid not I was quite emotional as we drove the rest of that journey thinking about what was laid out before us. We have been blessed to visit some great places through our life and seen some awesome and humbling sights. Today though for me has to be up there amongst the best, if not the best. I thanked God that He had made it possible for us to have this experience.

We parked up at the Whitehorse Hill car park which is as close motorised vehicles can get to the National Park and we walked around 1 mile to the Kea Viewing Point. It is called Kea after the parrots that live there, however we didn’t see any on our walk. The walk takes about 30mins and it was with a sense of expectancy as we climbed the final rise that we were going to see something really special.

Whilst there was cloud around it was moving quickly and in the right direction, away from the range in front of us. I was staggered to read later that there are 19 peaks in this range of mountains that are over 3,000 metres (10,000ft) with Mt Cook (3574m) and Mt Tasman (3498m) being the tallest. They were truly majestic as they stood there in all their ruggedness with the white snow shining out.

In addition we were virtually at the face of The Mueller Glacier which is a 13-kilometre (8.1 miles) long glacier. Its meltwaters eventually join the Tasman River. We had not realised how close we would be able to get to this glacier and the towering Mount Sefton was an awesome sight with its brilliant white snow still covering at least 1500m of this 3151m mountain.

 

As we wandered back down the hillside we kept getting glimpses of Mt Cook and as we finally reached the car park I took this picture.The clouds had cleared and there was Mt Cook standing pristine in all it’s awesome grandeur. We know of some people who visited the area and were unfortunate not to see what we we experienced. God had once again spoken to us through His creation.

So we set off on the next leg of our journey which would take us to Lake Tekapo. We had to retrace 50km of our journey and it was great being able to have a different view of what we had passed on our way to Mt Cook village. We had to circumnavigate around 60% of Lake Pukati on the first part of the route and had a view of the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park virtually all of the way. By the time we got to Lake Tekapo we were looking at the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park from the opposite side to when we had been at Kea Point.

So lunch was taken at Lake Tekapo which is at the southern end of the lake of the same name. It has unobstructed and fantastic views across the turquoise water and a backdrop of rolling hills and snow covered mountains.

The remainder of our journey took us through some quite familiar countryside of green hills on one side and the ruggedness of snow covered mountains which are home to countless ski locations on the opposite side. One of the things we have endeavoured to do through our travels is to not only look forward and to the side but to try and look at the view behind us either through the back window or our rear view mirrors. This is one of the best views I have seen so far on the our journey and I doubt if it will be bettered. It is of Mt Cook – not bad eh? (Oh by the way I had stopped and was stationary when I took this picture

After a couple of hours of travel we arrived in Geraldine which our Lonely Planet guide book informed us that it ‘has a bit of a country-village type of atmosphere with pretty gardens and an active craft scene’. Well not sure we would agree with that description as we thought it had more of a small town feel about it.

Geraldine is also home to the worlds largest knitted woollen jumper (thanks to Alysoun Sanders for that bit of information) and we did go and see it.

Another friend, Emma Hayes. told us about a lovely coffee shop which she had visited when she was in NZ. So we made haste for that as we know Emma has excellent taste but sadly it closed at 4pm which is exactly the time we got there. So …. we know where our coffee break is going to be tomorrow – The Verde Cafe Deli. About 3 minutes drive from our holiday park lol.

However, we were able to have our coffee in another lovely coffee shop called ‘The Plums’ which also did some very yummy cakes and chocolates. We bought some of the latter as pressies but I’m not sure they will make their intended receivers!!!

Tomorrow is the final leg of our adventure around NZ. We will travel to Christchurch which is to be our final resting place until we fly out to Oz on Thursday. Christchurch is still recovering from it’s massive earthquake in early 2011 but we have been told that they are encouraging tourists to visit so as to bring money back into the local economy. By the time we reach Christchurch we will have completed close to 4500km (circa 2,800mls) and what and drive that has been!

 

 

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