Natural thrill of New Zealand
At 3,754 metres (12,316 feet) Aoraki, or Mt Cook, is New Zealand’s highest mountain and as Intrepid’s Graham Stanley discovered, it’s a top spot to visit…
“I expected to be impressed with the scenery of New Zealand, but I was still taken aback by the beauty of Mt Cook. I have travelled to many countries and Mt Cook is by far one of the most stunning vistas that I’ve ever seen. Of course the weather can help. It is apparently a lucky day when the mountain can be seen crystal clear and without its shroud of cloud – and I was there!
The approaching road along the shores of Lake Pukaki afford views through the valley of the lofty peak, known as Aoraki in local language. The slopes of the valley are blanketed in pink and purple Lupin blooms in the Spring (September to November). While Lupins can be a bit of a pest, the plant’s saving grace is that it makes every scene a gloriously colourful one.
Slowly winding along the road, we had to stop for a few minutes as a flock of sheep converged on our car while making their way home. It was an instant reminder that I was in New Zealand. On the final approach towards to Aoraki, or Mt Cook National Park, the scale became obvious and the temperature started to drop.
Mt Cook has several great walking trails that are relatively easy to conquer and it’s worth taking the time to stretch your legs. Another highly recommend activity is to go and see Tasman Glacier, a river of ice grinding its way through the mountains where you can get very close to the terminal moraine.
I’m still staggered by how much punch New Zealand packs into its small nation. With highlights in the South Island such as Queenstown and Milford Sound, and stunning Mt Cook, it is definitely a gorgeous part of the planet to visit!”
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* photo by Sarah Howarth – Intrepid Photography Competition