Mount Cook never ceases to amaze. Just returned from a day long trek to Hooker Valley in the Mount Cook area. Here are some of the photos.

Today was crispy, tad warm. On the way, we found a very foggy, cloudy day in Geraldine and was wondering if driving farther up to Lake Tekapo would be worth it. By the time, we drove over Burkes Pass to approach Fairlie (a township that lies about 50 kilometers upstream towards Mount Cook), the cloud and fog were behind a and a crisp shiny day unfolded with blue sky.

Then, Lake Tekapo rewarded with these views:

View of Lake Tekapo from the shorefront

The emerald blue colour of the water has a magical effect on the eye. It’s quite unbelievable. You can see that not a wisp of cloud anywhere, and Mount Cook shining in the horizon. Mount Cook becomes the prominent feature as we drove on and reached the shorefront of Lake Pukaki,

Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook rises on the distance

I think by now I have beaten this shot to death now. Every time I pass by Lake Pukaki and have to stand on the shore, I cannot help shoot this. There is something magical about Mount Cook giving an illusion to the eye that it rises from the Lake. Note the colour of the water as well. The beautiful blue colour due to suspended glacial dust (“glacial flour”) reflecting sunlight. Spectacular.

We moved on. By then, we were nearing noon, and we wanted to reach Mount Cook village as fast as we could. Decided to have our lunch there. The road from Lake Pukaki diverged to Twizel (which we did not take), or to Mount Cook. This is a very distracting highway, particularly, if you have a majestic Mountain apparently rise from an emerald blue lake on a crisp, bright summer day!

Reflection of Mount Cook in Lake Pukaki from a vantage point lookout from the Mount Cook Highway. Note the reflection

I just do not get some things. Lake Pukaki is at least 30 kilometres away from Mount Cook or at least the Hooker Glacier, but this reflection! The towring effect of Mount Cook and our eyes! The illusion is magical and so is the whole experience of being there.

Which is where my surprise began after reaching Mount Cook. We checked with the rangers at the information centre and told them, we wanted to do the Hooker Valley. The guide told me we had to cross three swing bridges. I must admit that last time I trekked Hooker Valley, I could only count two of them. Where did the third bridge come from? It turned out as we treaded the route, the track was different from the one we walked a couple of years ago. The route to the first swing bridge did not change much, but beyond the first swing bridge, DOC made nice steps, cleared the walking tracks, and made it so friendly for gentle walking that no appreciation of their efforts is enough!

Nice steps all the way .. good job, DOC!

But the biggest surprise if you ask me was the third swingbridge. Here it is:

Upper Hooker Swing Bridge (“third swingbridge”)

Amazing. You cross the swing bridge and walk for about twenty minutes at a gentle pace, and then you see a magical view of the Hooker Lake, and the Hooker Glacier with Mount Cook providing the backdrop:

Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier, and Hooker Lake

Here is an up close and personal shot:

Hooker Lake and Mount Cook from the shores of the Lake

Sitting there, on the shores of the icy cold Hooker Lake, all of a sudden the enormity of the experience of being in Mount Cook dawns on you. The five hours of constant driving was worth it.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in: https://refind.com/arinbasu

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