The next day I headed for Queenstown. I stopped in the town of Lake Hawea for fuel and a few groceries.
After a while civilization started to come into view as I entered the valley where Queenstown is. The drive down into the valley was very cool — a string of hairpin turns to wind down the side of the mountain.
I stopped at an overlook along the way and finally thought to take a picture of this. I came across several of these in NZ, stairs that crossed over a wire fence. I assume the fence is for sheep and other wildlife and the stairs are for people to get over easily, in this case to get to the overlook. But do sheep not climb stairs? This tactic would never work for goats.
I stopped in Queenstown for a few hours and took absolutely no pictures. After being in the middle of nowhere for a few days it was weird to be back in a city. I was more interested in the scenery than anything on this trip so lots of tourists and shopping didn’t really do much for me. I stopped in the library for a bit to charge my camera and computer and then stopped at a coffee shop to check my email. Then I skipped town and turned back North toward Christchurch.
Along the way I came to the turnoff for Mount Cook. The Barrs had told me that it was often cloudy so you couldn’t see the peak and might not be worth the extra 100km out of the way to see it. But when I got to the crossroad the weather was perfect.
So naturally I turned off and headed for the mountain. It was a long drive, but there was no traffic and I passed several more of the big blue lakes along the way. When I got near the mountain I passed through the village of Mt Cook and headed out to the campground nearby to set up camp. When it was all set up it was still daylight so I went for a hike.
There were more glaciers along the way and a glacial drainage lake with some moraine (rock debris carried to its current location by former glaciers) all around the glacial basin. This entire area was carved out by ice that once covered it.
The sign in the above picture is talking about listening for ice falls. You didn’t have to be all that quiet to hear them both out on the trail and back at my tent. There were a few times when a significant rumble would rise up and I wondered if it could be an earthquake.
I crossed two suspension bridges along the part of the trail I hiked. They were a bit intimidating to cross because of the raging river below, long length, and lots of give. But I saw some kids bouncing across and figured I’d survive. And hey! I’m not yet dead so it must have worked out for the best.
After a while I turned back to I could get back to camp before the sun went down.
I still had time to cook dinner before it got dark so I stir fried some veggies and then headed into my tent. Yet another clear night sky.