New Zealand Part 6: Mt Cook and Tasman Glacier

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My daughter Halley and I set out early from Christchurch heading more or less south toward Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.  We had a Tasman Glacier excursion planned for the early afternoon and didn’t want to dawdle on the road.  Our itinerary indicated the drive would take a few hours!  We were determined to make it.  We did stop a couple times to change drivers or get a coffee but for the most part it was steady going until we came to this stretch of road.  I had to stop for these snow-capped peaks.

The view from Highway 8 as we drove toward Mount Cook Village

This isn’t near Mount Cook; I think we were still on Highway 8 heading toward Lake Tekapo but it was an awesome view.  Just look at all that empty space!   After that I knew we would get all the way to the park.  We simply had to follow the road till we found Lake Pukaki and then turn north!

Wow, things were getting better and better!  Lake Pukaki is long and a lovely glacial blue color.  The road curves along beside it and ends at the park.

Lake Pukaki from Mount Cook Village Road

Our destination was the Hermitage Hotel where we were hoping to check in early and then join up with a Glacier Explorers tour.  In spite of our few stops along the way we still had time for all the “business” of getting a room and some lunch before catching the tour to Tasman Glacier. By the way this link takes you to a site that has a great map of the area.

I sometimes wonder how I get into these things.  For some reason I thought this would be a walking tour but instead it was a boat ride.  We were given very specific instructions about how to get into the boat, how to stay warm, and how to quickly get help if we fell into the freezing water.

Getting ready to explore Tasman Glacier.     Photo by Halley Sanchez

Of course I had lots of fun.  For some reason I wasn’t in the least worried about falling overboard. Our guide, Will, was great.  And what a terrific tour.  I’ve never been so close to an iceberg before.

Up close and personal with an iceberg from Tasman Glacier.    Photo by Halley Sanchez

Will managed to get us a piece of the iceberg which was crystal clear.

Our glacier guide, Will, passes around a piece if iceberg.     Photo by Halley Sanchez

Of course all those people in the front just passed it back to the person sitting in the stern. Guess who got left holding the ice!  No worries.  It was cold and munchy!  And should you ask, no, I don’t know what the clip is on his hat!

We ventured over toward the glacier but didn’t get right up next to it.  The boats cannot get closer than 1.5 km because when a chunk of ice falls from the glacier (calving) it causes a massive water surge down the lake. If something broke off while we were next to the glacier, well it wouldn’t be good news for the boat or us.

The mountains tower above Tasman Glacier.          Photo by Halley Sanchez

Can you tell I really enjoyed this tour?  But soon it was over and time to go back to the hotel and find our room.  We had yet to see Mount Cook; there were too many clouds covering its peak.  Our room was excellent and afforded us a great view of the mountain, but we were still at the mercy of the weather.

Tomorrow would be another day.  There was still time to see the mountain and explore the park.


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