Mount Cook and Wanaka

February 2017

We left early as we planned to drive up to Mt Cook, having never been there. It was fun taking pictures of the remarkably shaped mountain, getting ever larger as we approached.
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At the village we were advised that the best walk for very limited time was in the Tasman Valley (East side of Mt Cook) that included views of the Tasman glacier valley, Mt Cook and more. It was a short climb, very popular, but with lots of photo opportunities.
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Our accommodation at Wanaka turned out to be delightful. It was located about 5 km east of the village, on a hill top small farm. Our hosts had farmed in the area but when their son took over, they chose to live on a small plot closer to Wanaka. We were hosted in an open plan studio (quite large) with all its own cooking and bathroom facilities. They had used this while building their main house. Most importantly, it had a functioning BBQ and we had access to the washing machine and drying rack in their garage.
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After stocking up at New World, we had sufficient light to complete the local Iron Peak loop track - about 5 km with 300 m elevation, and lots of views of the area. Given predicted rain for the next two days we feared this might be our only opportunity for photos. We had good Internet, so were able to catch up, check weather etc.
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Even though it rained overnight, we woke to clear sky and an improved weather prediction, so we decided to hike Roy's Peak, one of the iconic one day walks in NZ, 16 km with about 1300 m elevation change, and almost totally exposed. The car park was just about full, attesting to its popularity.
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We headed up to the peak at 1578 meters, with 35 'switch backs' (zig zags). There was a steady stream of hikers, all much younger than us, and many did pass us, but we passed several as well. Views were magnificent all the way up and we kept taking pictures in case the cloud descended on the peak before we got there. After 2 hours we reached the saddle, and all of the western valleys came into view. Then an hour later we were at the peak. It was cold and windy, but not nearly as bad as we had expected.
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The walk down was a challenge, more so than the climb up, but that is always the case for us. Most folk passed us, many running down steep slopes - little do they know what they are doing to their knees and hips!
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As a treat, we picked up fresh water salmon sourced locally and had BBQ salmon, mashed kumera, and vegies in hollandaise source.
On Day 2 in Wanaka, we woke to mist, but it cleared, and the weather predictions were for rain later in the afternoon. We decided to hike to Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain, a three hour stint, with much less elevation change than Roy's Peak.
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It was an enjoyable track, well maintained to Diamond Lake, which was very photogenic, stairs up the first of the cliff faces, then a loop track to Rocky Mountain, with a side path to visit the Lake Wanaka viewing spot. The path up and down from Rocky Mountain required good footwork, but the changing vegetation and views were spectacular.
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It was cold and very windy on the top, so we hurried back home, only encountering rain for the last 30 minutes of the hike on well formed paths. Then the rain set in, so we retreated to our comfortable accommodation for a last supper in Wanaka.
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File translated from TEX by TTH, version 4.08.
On 19 Mar 2017, 21:24.