Flag_French

The Catlins Coast at the far south of South Island was wonderful, no doubt. After this good breath of fresh marine air, we are ready to travel back North to visit the Giant of New Zealand: Mount Cook and its 3724m high!

From the Catlins Coast to Mount Cook

We stop a few days in « scottish » Dunedin, the capital of Otago region, but take a french leave fairly quickly: the terrible forecast drives us completely mad. We try to escape the rain by travelling further north (312km of hitchhike from Dunedin to Mt Cook) with no success. Autumn is here, and apparently it plans to stay a while. We’ve been hitchhiking since two months now, camping every nights, eating lyophilized tasteless food twice a day, and we didn’t take time to rest once! We are quite exhausted, cold, and washed out by the endless rain. Quentin has melted down like butter under a bright summer sun. He is losing is pants!! We feel that it’s nearly time for us to stop and settle down for a time to recover, then be ready to leave again!

But before that, we are going to pay a visit to beautiful Mt Cook! Here it is, in the distance, pointing its powdery nose skyward, far above the ground and its yellowish autumnal colours. The Southern Alps are a real wonder. We are completely fascinated by the scenery passing by the windows of French, German or even Chinese’s cars, which stop to pick us up along the way. The closer we get to Mt Cook, the more snow covers the lanscape’s curves, like a pretty icing on top of a giant birthday cake! We finally reach the far end of the road, which suddenly stop, encircled by a dizzying chain of snow-capped peaks. The road is like a giant tongue surrounded by its mountain teeth. We will camp there tonight, in this incredible buccal decor. Chance makes us meet our two good (and crazy) friends Pierre et Léa whom we met in Arthur’s Pass a few weeks ago. Once again, we share a very funny evening that makes us forget the cold!

At the begining of the hiking track, le camp spot were we spent the night

At the begining of the hiking track, le camp spot were we spent the night

Freezing walk at the bottom of Hooker valley :

In the morning, we wake up with teeth clacking, goose bumps and running noses. Even the nearby glacier has caught cold and violently thunder-sneezes, making us jump! To warm our bodies up, we had planned to climb the 8hrs track up to famous Mueller Hut from where you can enjoy one of the best alpine views on the Southern Alps. But we have to change our plan as the weather has not improved a bit since yesterday. On the horizon, the sky is brewing a dark thunderstorm of masterly proportion… And its coming this way!  We choose a wiser and shorter walk (3hrs return) that takes us along Hooker Valley. The panorama is nonetheless magnificient! Isn’t it?

In the Hooker Valley, hiking to the base of Mont Cook

In the Hooker Valley, hiking to the base of Mont Cook

We follow a large river, winding its way throught the valley. We are quite lucky for now: a window of blue sky has opened upon us. At the far end of the valley, we can admire majestic Mount Cook reigning over its courtiers, watching over its kingdom with its stern look and its Yeti face. Can you see it? The picture is striking! Some low clouds wrap around its giant neck like frilly scarves. What a monarch!

The summit of venerable Mount Cook. Do you the yeti face up there ?

The summit of venerable Mount Cook. Do you the yeti face up there ?

At the end of the track: a lake. The nutrient reservoir of the rushing river, the receptacle of mountain tears, the offspring of ancient glaciers… In short, it’s wonderful! Small blue icebergs float on the dark waters like ice cubes in a gigantic Scotch glass.  With a poetic vision, we can nearly imagine ourselves standing before a mini Patagonia. We are half-expecting to see mini whales breathing on the surface.

But the dream is shortened: the storm is getting closer by the minute. We nearly run back to the campground, turning only once to take a last look over Mt Cook. And then…

– Quentin ! Watch that !!!

Mount Cook is offering us its most wonderful farewell. And we nearly missed that! The sun pierces briefly the thick cloudy cover and floods the Mountain with a beautiful silvery light coming straight from a fairy tale. The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic! What a country!

When the sun pierce through the clouds over the Hooker Valley and flood its light on Mount Cook

When the sun pierce through the clouds over the Hooker Valley and flood its light on Mount Cook

Back to the campgroung, we try to fold our tent as quickly as possible.

– Hurry Quentin! Give me the pegs!!
– Mariette, be quicker for god’s sake!

Quick, quick, let’s fold the tent! Whew, just on time! The sky suddenly decides to break open and falls literally on our heads! A freezing rain accompanies us along the road. Good bye, Mount Cook!  Now, we just have to find a generous driver that would be keen to pick up two dodgy wet hitchhikers. Further up the road, an other wonder is awaiting us : Lake tekapo!!

Cheers!!

Tintin & Riette


Tips :

Camping in Mont Cook :

  • At the end of Hooker Valley Road, the large car park is actually a DOC campground where you can spend the night for 10$/person. Toilets, drinking water and a large shed are available (but you can’t sleep in the shed).

Hiking in Mont Cook :

  • Hooker Valley Walk : 5km, 3 hours return. Height gain : 80m. Easy.
    From the car park, the track goes down in the valley that leads to Mount Cook, following the river bed and passing by a few lakes, and ending in Hooker Lake in which a few icebergs floats.
  • Mueller Hut : 5,2km, 6-7 hours return. Heigh gain 1000m. Advanced.
    From the village or the car park, the track goes up in the mountains by steep stairs, and then a scree leads to the hut at 1800m. From there another track allow to climb up to Mt Ollivier summit at 1933m. Spending a night in Mueller Hut is and look at the sunrise is one of the best experience in New Zealand. The view from Mt Ollivier summit is among the best in the country !

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse de messagerie ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Rechercher