Tag: hiking in new zealand

Expedition South Island, NZ: Day 2: Seeing Mt. Cook

Mt Cook at the end of Hooker Valley trail (c) ABR 2017

Total distance driven: 399km
Total time driving: 5hrs

Miles hiked: 6.2
Time hiking: 2hrs

I left Christchurch around 9a, and made it up to Mt. Cook National Park around 1p. Much of the drive was through flat country, but the final section climbed up into the hills, and then opened out around some alpine lakes at the base of some insanely beautiful mountains.

Seeing Mt. Cook from far away was awe inspiring. It dominated the valley even from miles away, and its snow capped peak looked sharp and foreboding. The gravel car park at the trailhead for Hooker Valley looked full by the time I got there, although it was not hard to park. The trail itself was likewise busy but not overcrowded.

As the brochures on the NP suggest, Hooker Valley was not a difficult trail, however, it was a slight but steady climb for about 3 miles. The track follows a stream that comes down from the mountains, and there are three major bridge crossings on the way. The view from each was exceptional, and the water flowing under them was a chalky, blue color that was hard to take my eyes off of, even on the swaying bridges. The rest of the trail winds its way through grassy hills, until it ends at the edge of a light blue lake, with Mt. Cook at the other end, towering over everything else.

It was a peaceful walk, despite the crowds. I did hear some cracking ice at one point, and I found myself looking nervously up at the mountains with hanging curtains of snow. I have no idea how far avalanches can travel, but I never doubt nature. Luckily, I arrived back at my car, tired, and ready to head into town for some rest.

Where do you start for a trip like this? Find out with Day 1’s Log.
Where’s the next destination? Read about Mt. Aspiring in Day 3.

Expedition South Island, NZ: Day 1: Arriving in Christchurch

Looking down on Christchurch from Mt Vernon Park (c) ABR 2017

Total time flying: 16hrs
Layover time: 11hrs

I decided not to splurge, and stayed in LAX for my entire 9 hour layover. The international terminal wasn’t a horrible place to be, and I even found a quiet corner to lay down in and get some work done.

The flight to New Zealand ended up being hellish. Either I just had some extremely painful bloating, or I was actually sick. Either way, it started just an hour into the 12 hr flight, and it was torturous. I’m dreading the trip home at this point. I have a rental car on stand by in LA, if I get off on the way home and can’t stand to get back in the air.

(c) ABR 2017

I was still in pain and utterly exhausted when I got to Christchurch, but my hotel didn’t allow check in until 2p. So, I drove over to Mt. Vernon park and walked the Sugarloaf Circuit. It was very nice, all things considered. But I was damn glad to get to my hotel room, and I didn’t leave once I check in. Ended up sleeping for 11 hours.

What happened next? Find out! Day Two

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