I woke up cold and wet, even though I ended up putting the rainfly on in the middle of the night. I have to pack up everything wet and take off without even making breakfast. I’m immediately greeted with beautiful views of Lake Tekapo that I had missed the night before, and the terrible realization I’ve been driving on the wrong side of the road for a while. As I make my way towards Mt Cook/Aoraki Park I pass another beautfiul torquiose lake, Lake Pukaki. Most of the drive up to Mt Cook is next to the massive lake, and I couldn’t stop pulling over for pictures.
When I get to Mt Cook, I head for the Hooker Valley Track and I am not let down. It’s a 3 hour hike out and back to Hooker Lake, and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever taken. The path has 3 swinging bridges over raging rivers that are so high up they make me dizzy. If you know me well, you know I have a pretty big fear of heights.
After Hooker Valley, I do a quick hike up to a view of Tasman Glacier, the longest glacier in New Zealand. The glacier is very far away, and a giant lake made of the glacier run off sits at the front of it, a lake that didn’t exsist in 1973. When I finish up in Mt Cook, I start heading towards the coast. I picked up a hitchhiker heading my way who plans on spending the next six months in New Zealand and then another 6 months in Australia! I am so excited/jealous of the people who can stay here for so long, I could definitely spend months exploring. The drive to the coast is lined with cow, sheep, and deer farms and reminds me of driving up the 5 in California, but I’m pretty sure the cows here are happier.
I had planned on staying in a small farm town, Duntroon, but when I pulled up to the campsite it was totally empty and I got a weird feeling so I decided to drive another 30 minutes to the coast. I’m glad I did because Waitaki Waters has showers, free laundry and WiFi. It’s also a 5 minute walk from the beach so I got to fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.