Heading to the Mount Cook Village was simply overwhelming. The water on Lake Pukaki glistened in the abundant sunshine as we followed its perimeter.
In parts, the clouds and mountains were mirrored in the icy blue glacial water.
Lit in just the right spot, the snow-covered mountains brilliantly shined down on us.
When we reached the Aoraki Court Motel, we checked in as the gale force winds came to bear. Rather than walking up to the Hermitage, we drove. It’s only a 10-minute walk at best, but the ever-changing weather had become bitterly cold.
At the Hermitage, we confirmed our booking for the Glacier Explorer tour, scheduled for the next day, and we headed for the bar. The fire was just being lit as we found deep leather chairs to settle into. We enjoyed the mountain views with a cold New Zealand lager in hand.
As night fell, we drove over to the Old Mountaineers’ Cafe, Bar and Restaurant. What a story the owners have. It took over ten years for them to cut through the red tape, suffering through competitor injunctions, before finally realised their dream of opening their own restaurant to serve the area. Yes, ten years! Such tenacity! We were glad to contribute to their continued success. The food was great (Natalie claims it was the best burger she’s EVER had), but I think the atmosphere made it even better.
The walls are decorated with photos from the original explorers of the area. Old mountaineering equipment, from snowshoes to backpacks, make up the rest of the décor. It’s definitely eclectic. While the gift shop in the restaurant seems odd at first, but after reading their story on the back of the menu, it became clear.
I don’t want to give their story away. I think everyone should visit the Mount Cook area and read their story themselves. Place, story, and of course the food is worthy of your time.
The following morning, we were on our way with the Glacier Explorers for a cruise on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.
We bused to the Tasman Valley. From there, we hiked the easy 1.5 km trail to the jetty where the boats awaited our arrival. Donning life jackets, we boarded the MAC boats and were educated on the boat’s safety precautions.
The cruise allowed us to touch and taste a 300-600 year old iceberg. We learned about the Tasman Glacier (currently about 27km in length but melting at a rapid rate) and the adjacent moraine. What surprised us was this lake has only existed since about 1990.
It’s predicted that the glacier will eventually melt and the lake will reach its peak in about 15 years.
After the cruise, we waved goodbye to the village as we headed back out to the highway. We glanced once more at the end of the lake, just as Mount Cook came out to wave goodbye before disappearing back into the clouds.
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