Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On A Clear Day: Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

The water tube from reservoir to camper was frozen when we awoke this morning in Omarama, but the rising run soon defrosted it to workable again. A rainy day yesterday kept us from heading out to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. The payoff came Wednesday, a perfectly clear morning for the drive. Along the way, nature's effortless hand.

On a clear day, rise and look around you

Here's our route, a nearly straight line north, with a stop in Twizel (TWY-zyl) to restock the larder, last-chance grocery before entering the national park (trouble viewing click here).

When we turned off into the park, Lake Pukaki to the east, the sun was busy turning frost into mist.  
Lake Pukaki is the largest of three roughly parallel alpine lakes running north-south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin on New Zealand's South Island. The others are Lakes Tekapo and Ohau. All three lakes were created when the terminal moraines of receding glaciers blocked their respective valleys, forming moraine-dammed lakes. The glacial feed to the lakes gives them a distinctive blue colour, created by glacial flour, the extremely finely ground rock particles from the glaciers.
The drive was sublime

Finally, Aoraki appears at the top of the lake, its very own weather system hovering over it.

We're headed for the Glentanner Park Centre, a stunning campground/motel/flightseeing hub set within a working high country sheep station.

Glentanner Station is 45,000 acres and carries 9,000 Merino sheep, 200 Hereford cattle and 230 Red deer. The run was taken up in 1858 by the Dark brothers and extended from Boundary Stream in the south and included the Mount Cook National Park in the north.
But we're not there yet (though I kind of wish this road went on forever).

Our first task is to choose a campsite. This one looks a little tippy. I have a level inside the caravan that I use to determine just how tippy, and Art's got wood to put under the tires if needed.

He goes out walking to make certain we're in the best spot (we do need to be near electricity, however, and I don't think our extension cord is this long).

Reorienting at the same site, this works (the feet of the camper, manually rotated up and down, help stabilize it).

Just down the path, rooms where you can stay.

The eating area adjacent to the kitchen is cozy with a woodburning stove.

And a view.

Also, art.

Covering 175,000 acres, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park contains the highest NZ mountains (notably Aoraki/Mt Cook itself, at 12,218 ft) and largest glaciers, the latter covering 40% of the park. It's difficult to grasp, not to mention share, the scope of it, even this tiny slice. We wolf down lunch and get out for a walk. 

Lots of fencing keeps the sheep (none within view) in line and us moving toward the lake.

What a day!

We headed back to Glentanner reception, with outdoor tables for relaxing with Aoraki.

 There's even a cafe here. Tomorrow I'm trying the potato-leek soup.

But right now a flat white's in order, though Art goes rogue and gets a hot chocolate.

Shadows lengthening, we return to our caravan. Look at that sky. Do you suppose we'll see some stars tonight?

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