Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pictures from Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook Hikes

We traveled toward Mount Cook via lake Tekapo and lake Pukaki. The colour of these lakes is a remarkable swimming pool blue and they provide a startling contrast to the hills and mountains among which they are set.

Lake Tekapo

Church of the Good Shepherd on lake Tekapo

View through the picture window behind the church alter. I would find this a bit distracting as a parishioner.

View back to Lake Tekapo from the Mount John observatory. The skies here are very black and the town has specially hooded street lamps to reduce any glare.

We 'freedom' camped on lake Pukaki in a little spot just off a bicycle path. Whenever we do this type of camping we make sure to leave the place cleaner than we found it. This site was not heavily used because it required us to walk in, but I still bagged a full grocery bag of discarded cans, bottles, and toilet paper - delightful.

The lake water was a bit chilly, but we went for a dip anyway.

Walking along the bicycle path beside Lake Pukaki

Morning view from our tent

Driving along the shore of Lake Pukaki en route to Mount Cook park.

Check out this picture by Trey Ratcliff taken in the same area - WOW.

We camped at the DOC campsite in the Mount Cook park and went on a hike the next day out to Hooker lake through the Hooker Valley. The walk is easy and the views are stunning for most of the route.

Monument to climbers lost in this area

Rani never misses an opportunity to have our picture taken together.

There are three suspension bridges on the trail - one currently under construction.

Rani crosses one of the beautifully built suspension bridges. The materials were flown in by helicopter and we saw a load being transported this way the morning after our walk.

The trail has walk ways across more sensitive areas.

With views like this who can blame Rani for skipping along?

The trail follows this river bed to the lake

Hooker Lake is a trifle chilly - yes those are ice bergs behind as the glacier was actively calving.
This shelter lies on the trail about 2/3rds of  the way to the lake

Nice view from the shelter's window of Mount Cook.

Next morning we awoke to another fine day. A near full moon competes with the low sun. 

We set off for the Mueller hut quite early, reaching this view at Kea Point around 8 am. This is a huge lateral moraine left by the Mueller glacier (Mount Cook behind). We saw photos of this area completely under ice only 100 years ago.

There are 1810 steps to the Sealy Tarns rest point, which is about half way up to the Mueller hut. The rest of the ascent is of similar steepness but without the steps. DOC has done a great job on these steps - even and well secured.

View of the glaciers in one of the Sealy Tarns

Rani poses at a lookoff en route to the Mueller Hut

We met Ryan, and American from Rochester, NY at the lookoff.

Chris and Ryan hike near some leftover snow on the approaches to the hut 

Mueller hut - rebuilt recently and now quite large and well insulated.

Rani leading a scramble up Mount Olivier, above the Mueller hut.

View from Mount Olivier toward Mount Cook. Hooker lake lies below.

Nicolai, a Russian guide and former weather router for long range soviet military aircraft. You meet the most interesting people on a mountain side.

Bunks in the hut

Views from the deck are quite fine

The hut has gas stoves, but this year there was a problem with water and they were melting snow.

Even up here at nearly 2000 meters there is ample life

Rani making a snow angel

A picnic table with a view - Sealy Tarns rest stop on the way down.

We highly recommend the hike to Mueller hut and Mount Olivier. If you do go, please try to stay on the rocky parts of the upper trail because there are large erosion problems with many side paths being caused by new trail blazing.

Many have gone before. This woman was one of the pioneers in mountaineering in this area. I find this photo (from the late 19th century) disconcerting because it appears that she has amputated her guide's left leg with her ice axe.

The excellent Mount Cook Village visitor's center features two lovely stained glass windows of local wildlife including this Kea or alpine parrot. We later saw a flock of these parrots on the Routeburn Track.

There is a larger than life statue of Rani's hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, at the cafe in the Hermitage hotel.

Hillary cut his teeth on mountains in this area and this photo shows him on a fairly recent visit to Mount Cook village.

Hillary seems to look toward Mount Cook.

1 comment:

SV Silhouette said...

Great post on the hiking tracks on the South Island, Chris and Rani! Thanks for sharing your pictures.