It rained all day in Twizel yesterday so I didn’t get much of a chance to see the village, not that it would have taken long to do that anyway, as it’s a tiny place. People say that it’s a great place to read books. My Intercity bus picked me up from the bus stop in Twizel and on our way, we passed Lake Pukaki, whose turquoise blue waters reflected in the clouds above the lake, which was strange to see. I was on my way to Mt. Cook and the journey only took an hour from Twizel. By 12.30pm I was sitting on the terrace of the Hermitage Hotel, with a clear view overlooking the snow capped peak of Mt. Cook in all its glory. The morning weather was dull, with low lying cloud but the forecast was that it would improve over the next day or two.
About a week ago, I was on the other side of Mt. Cook, at Fox Glacier, hoping to catch a glimpse of Aoraki Mt. Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand but it was too cloudy then. By 12pm the clouds had lifted and the sun’s rays put a bright glow over everything. Other people are happy hiking up glaciers and climbing “Mt. Doom” but I’m just happy seeing Mt. Cook in blazing sunshine, with heavy snow on it.
I’d booked into the YHA backpackers and the only room they had left, that wasn’t too expensive, was a four bed dorm. I was sharing with three Malaysian people who were going to be up at 6am in the morning, to leave for the next part of their trip. I normally book single rooms when I stay in hostels so that I don’t get disturbed by other people getting up at that hour of the morning, but I decided to share a room this time, for the privilege of staying in Mt. Cook. Accommodation there was hard to come by because it was expensive in the village, for someone on a budget.
Mt. Cook village sits in Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park, which has nineteen peaks that are over three thousand metres high. Forty percent of the land here is covered by glaciers, which have helped shape the park’s landscape. That landscape includes five major valley systems: the Godley, the Murchison, Tasman, Hooker and Mueller. Our driver on the Intercity bus told us that the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s largest and longest glacier, had two thousand cubic metres of ice fall off it during the February 22nd earthquake in Christchurch, in 2011. The earthquake was that strong, it was felt that far away – five hours from Christchurch!