Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day six 14th February 2008

I didn't have a comfortable night on my foam mat in our little tent, so I decided to do something about it. But first, we packed up the car and set off for an early morning walk up Mount Iron on the outskirts of Wanaka.

Not a huge walk to the top (about 248 metres up from the road, about 548metres above sea level) but it got the heart going a bit. Nice views over Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, the town, and of the surrounding countryside. This picture of Wanaka was taken on the way up the hill.

The two panoramas were taken from the top, the first is North to South going clockwise, and the second South to North continuing around.

An exciting walk down the steep side of the hill contrasted with the gentle walk to the top, and 90 minutes or so after we set off we were back at the car. We dashed back into Wanaka, and bought some supplies for the day at the supermarket, and then across the road to Mainly Tramping, where I bought a self inflating mat, full length and quite a thick one. Not something I would ever take on a long walk, but great for camping from the car which we do a lot of.

So back on the road again for a longish drive to Mt Cook. We set off down the north and east side of the Clutha River to Tarras, then headed north up the Lindis river to the Lindis Pass. Not one of the more dramatic passes in New Zealand, but definitely one of the nicest drives. We had a beautiful day for it, and stopped at the top of the pass for our lunch, and were joined by the obligatory tourist buses! A quick photo and we were off again. This small panorama (3 pictures) was taken from the summit looking North.

Next stop Twizel, after a picturesque drive across the exceedingly flat McKenzie Country plains, surrounded by some exceedingly high mountains. We found a nice little Cafe/restaurant on the way into Twizel, Poppies Cafe. Beautiful coffee and excellent food. We only had a desert as we had a nice evening meal to look forward to, but one day we will go back for a full meal!

Swiftly on to our overnight stop at the Glentanner Motorcamp a short drive south of Mount Cook village. This campsite has great facilities, but the site seems completely undeveloped. So you find yourself a patch of grass amongst the scrub and rocks, and pitch your tent, which is what we did. The campsite overlooks Lake Pukaki, which is a mostly natural reservoir for the power station at Twizel. It's fed by the glaciers in the Mt Cook national park, and is the most amazing blue. It's level was a bit down when we got there, as this summer had been long, hot and dry down here in the McKenzie Country, and the reservoirs had not recovered after the winter power usage. We couldn't actually get a photo that does this lake justice, so here is the Wikipedia entry for it, and I am sure this chap won't mind me linking to his website, which contains a stunning photo of the lake.

We had a few hours to spare before our evening meal etc, so we drove up to Mount Cook, and then onto the Tasman Glacier viewpoint. This is a few kilometres down a dirt road, and then a couple of kilometres walking, but it is quite spectacular, and as the glacier is receding fairly rapidly, we took our chance to see it while we could.

A panorama of the lake, there are 3 tiny orange blobs in this picture which are 12 seater tourist boats. They give the chunks of ice some scale!

We spent some time at the visitor centre at Mt. Cook village, and the weather cleared a little while we were there (it had rained and got very cold while up at the Tasman Glacier) and we got some nice shots of the Mountain through the window!

Back to the campsite, some pasta and sauce for our evening meal, and more photo opportunities from outside the kitchen window!

And to top off a wonderful day, while enjoying a stroll around the wilderness that passed for a camp ground, we saw a New Zealand Falcon hunting amongst the bushes of the campsite!
Off to a much more comfortable night, but it rained as it only can in the mountains overnight, and as we were still learning how to put the tent up, we got a little wet around the shoulders where we touched the tent!

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