As an added extra, you can get dropped off by the Kiwi Experience bus in Twizel to then get a shuttle bus to Mount Cook National Park. Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, has a view of the Tasman Glacier and some nice walks so we wanted to stop here as we had the time.
On the 27th April 2017, on our way to Twizel, we went through a sheep station which had 100,000 sheep at its top capacity – I can’t imagine that number of sheep. The driver told us a story of the first owner to get a lease on the land. He only had the lease for 1 year unless he could fully stock the land with enough sheep to prove that he needed the scale of land that he had been granted. After the year was up he didn’t have remotely enough sheep to cover the land he had so, to make sure he was granted the lease again, he kept taking the inspector into his cottage for drinks while the sheep were moved from paddock to paddock to make it look like each paddock was full. The inspector got so drunk that he didn’t realise what was happening and so signed off on the land to give him a permanent lease. The driver told us that New Zealand has around 40 million sheep which is 10 sheep for every person who lives there – apparently it was as high as 75 million sheep in the 90’s which is 40 sheep for every person, incredible!
We were dropped off into Twizel at around 1pm and were two of 5 people who got off the bus here. Our shuttle bus to Mount Cook National Park wouldn’t be arriving until 2:45pm so we had a bit of a wait in what is a very small place indeed. We explored the Spark wifi (the phone company has wifi at their phone booths that you can use if you’re on their network – which we were) and played chess on the giant chess board they had in their town centre. I say town centre but it’s more just a couple of car parks, a cafe and a supermarket but still. Needless to say (but I’ll say it as Niall will make me) Niall won at chess.
Once we were picked up by the shuttle bus, we had a stop at a place called Peter’s Lookout. This gave us our first view of Mount Cook and over Lake Pukaki. I had seen pictures of Lake Pukaki before and had really wanted to go whilst we were in New Zealand so I was thrilled to be seeing it in person. The lake was quite choppy but still had the beautiful turquoise colour I had seen in pictures. The sun had come out too so, although it was quite windy, we were able to enjoy the view a bit more than if it had been completely grey skies, even if there still were some clouds in the sky.
We stayed in the Mount Cook YHA which was a really nice hostel and, after getting settled, we wrapped up and went out to explore the national park. We only had one night there so had to make the most of it. The bus would be coming in the morning and we also didn’t know how long the weather would stay nice so we didn’t want to waste any time.
Our exploring started by going into the Hooker Valley. We were told this would give us the best view of Mount Cook and the Tasman Glacier. There were quite a few walkers about and there was a clearly marked path through the valley so it wasn’t hard to find out where to go. Unfortunately, a big cloud rolled into the valley and after a while we could no longer see Mount Cook. This was also about the time that it started to get a bit colder and it was later in the evening so really the timing worked out fine as it was when we needed to turn back anyway.
As we walked through the valley we stopped off at Mueller Lake Lookout. This was a lake, small by New Zealand’s standards, in the valley and had an amazing backdrop of the Tasman Glacier. I really liked looking out over the lake with the giant glacier looking over us. The glacier is 29km long and 4km wide but it’s melting fast so I’m glad we got to see it while it was still around. It would be interesting to be able to see what it was like when it was at its biggest and what it will be like in one hundred years time.
Another stop on our walk was the Hooker Bluff Suspension Bridge. This was really wobbly, especially when a few people were walking over it (something we had quite a bit of fun making worse). The bridge gave you good views of the valley, the glacier and Mount Cook. The whole valley was full of marsh and grasses and looked really rustic and wild which I liked a lot. We had a nice walk through the valley although it was very windy – I think partly because the valley created a wind tunnel for us to walk through. In my opinion, Mount Cook is definitely worth a stop off if you had the time.
Sending Love x