Day 10 | Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

This has got to be one of my top 3 favorite/most memorable days on this trip. As I commented before, instead of following our original itinerary (which would’ve put us in Day 16 for Mount Cook), we decided to chase the good weather. We were supposed to be headed to Wanaka (southwest of our destination) by now, but we decided to go northeast again just to get another good hike in.

Of course, heading in, we had to pull over for scenic stops…

 

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park; Hooker Valley Track

We originally wanted to do the Mueller Hut track, but it required booking in advance during the months of November-April, and not everyone in our party was equipped to do such a strenuous hike. After looking through our options at the visitor center in the village, we decided on Hooker Valley Track, which put us at a good 3-hour turn around time, in time to make it to Wanaka by mid afternoon.

The track itself had little elevation change, but it had A W E S O M E lookout points including the Mueller Lake one. I see so many movies and advertisements with snow capped mountains and turquoise lakes, thinking, oh they’re just green screened or photoshopped, no way they could be real. THIS IS THE REAL DEAL, FRIENDS.

Unfortunately, shortly after, we had to cross a suspension bridge…which…I…extremely…dislike…if you remember from my post about the Blue Pools. It was windy and once again had a maximum of 10 people at a time. Everything between the first and second suspension bridge was full of twisty elevation changes and flat lands. Once we got off the second bridge, we got to a little shack aka “rest stop” for people to take a breather, go to the bathroom, or just enjoy the open window view. From our understanding, that was a mark of 2/3 of the way. Being completely transparent, I was ready to turn around and go back at that point.

IMG_3713 

…and so we did, about 10 minutes later. I wasn’t feeling too great, and we were all getting pretty hungry, and we were told that there wasn’t a “must-see” view later on in the route. (I know, there wasn’t the satisfaction of finishing the hike, but our bellies were calling) plus the weather was already making a turn for the worse at the time.

Hill Country Salmon Farm

We had passed by this farm several times now, first time from our first Christchurch->Omarama drive, then the day in Lake Tekapo, then now we’ve all made up our minds to get some salmon sashimi for lunch. The farm had salmon feeding, sashimi, and pre-packaged salmon to cook later. After reading so many great reviews on TripAdvisor, I’m not sure that I was quite as impressed. It was “ok” sashimi, and I feel like we’ve had better in Auckland and definitely better now that we’ve eaten another 3 pounds in Akaroa.

IMG_3721 IMG_3722 IMG_3725

Wanaka

We AirBnB-ed a holiday lake house from this lady and it was a huge home! There were 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a giant kitchen, and wonderful lake views from the balcony. As always, we like to cook a meal at home, so we used all the necessary items – oven, electric wok, pots, and pans to make mac and cheese and lamb bake.

IMG_3738 IMG_3739

Advertisements

Day 7 | Christchurch –> Omarama

After three days in Auckland, we flew to Christchurch to spend the next 10 days in the South Island. We laanded around noon and headed straight for lunch in the city…Abalone Thai Restaurant! I ordered myself an egg wrapped Pad Thai (my second time eating it!) Oh, and the airport is also where we met up with an additional 2 members of our party: Dad’s high school best friend and his wife. We used to travel with them when I was little, so this was nothing new.

IMG_3418

When we finished lunch and grocery shopping, we headed 194 miles southwest to Omarama, where we would be staying for the next 3 days. Since New Zealand roads are paved according to mountains, there was room for plenty of windy roads, low mph, and scenic stops.

IMG_3420 IMG_3421

We arrived at our little abode around 7:30pm, and it was still bright! The boss lady welcomed us and offered us New Zealand milk and showed us to our apartment and even provided us with a rice cooker and electric wok! She showed us the way to the nearest supermarket where we could load up on groceries for dinner and breakfast.

IMG_3441

It was exciting to shop limited options and still be able to pull off ground beef elbow pasta and brussel sprouts for dinner. That marked our first day in South Island, and I deemed it…relaxing yet productive.

IMG_3446