Monday, January 30, 2017

Mt. Cook

     Blue skies and warmer temperatures, perfect for a day trip to Mt Cook and its surrounding lakes. The 2 1/2 drive from Wanaka passes through tan and yellow canyons and high rolling hills, the only vegetation - bushy yellow grasses. On the side of the road, we do a doubletake and u-turn, seeing thousands of bras hanging along a long stretch of fence. It is to bring awareness and to raise funds for breast cancer-very clever!

     The information center at Twizel has a salmon shop, featuring locally farmed salmon. We buy some cold smoked salmon for lunch. A few minutes later, the view in front of us is breathtaking, a turquois blue Lake Pukaki shimmering in the sun, and at the opposite end, the base of the Mt Cook range covered in snow. Lake Pukaki is fed by the glacial waters of the Tasman River and Tasman Glacier. We find a side road to the campground and have our lunch overlooking the blue waters. 

     The village of Mt. Cook is about 30 min away. Along the way we stop at a lavendar field to take photos, which remind us of Provence. At the edge of the field , we strike up a conversation with a British couple and hear their romantic tale. Maggie and George are making their second trip around the world. Together for 7 years now, they were reunited after 50 years apart. George had chosen his other girlfriend over Maggie and she was heartbroken. Maggie has recently written a book, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, chronicling their rekindled relationship which started when George came across an old photo of Maggie at age 15 and went in search of her. He posted a birthday message with his email and they found eachother, divorced their spouses, and have been travelling since. Never mind that their kids don't speak to them; they are happily travelling 10 months out of each year. We promise to look up her book.

     Mt. Cook has several trails and we hike 2 short ones, one of which overlooks Tasman Glacier. Along the way, we hear a crash and look up to see an avalanche of snow tumbling off the cliff. We all agree that it must be terrifying to be on a mountain during an avalanche.

The sun is beginning to set on our way back and Lake Pukaki is a bit more reflective. 

     We stop for dinner at Poppies in Twizel and enjoy a fabulous meal. Twizel, incidentally, was the location for the Lord of the Rings Battle of the Pelennor Fields with thousands of Orcs transported to this tiny town. The grassy plains were Rohan in Return of the King and the mountains provided the backdrop in the opening scenes of The Two Towers. We decide that we must see the movie again to identify these NZ sights.


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