Twizel to Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Distance: 44 miles
Time on bike: 1 hour

Although the weather looked like it should be fine for camping last night, the skies ended up clearing and the temperature dropped to just above freezing. At 9 am the thermometer was reading 2.5 degrees in the porch of the tent and the bikes have a covering of frost. We seem to have survived well enough however and no doubt having the hot water bottles made a big difference.

After our now usual breakfast of oats with an orange, a banana, a spoonful of honey and a sprinkling of chocolate, we get packed away. While Carl is getting the tent put back away Béné spots a few chestnuts on the ground nearby and collects a few so we can add them to our dinner menu for the next few nights.

We get going at 10.30 am, but just to ride around the corner to the local supermarket. We’re heading into the Mount Cook National Park for a few days so will need to take in with us all our food as there are no shops.

The day is really stunning today with clear blue skies and just a nice temperature; quite fresh but not too cold. We have a 40 mile ride to get from Twizel up to Mount Cook and the road is quiet and lonely. We can see the mountains up ahead with a nice dusting of snow and as we get closer we begin to see the snow-capped Mount Cook at 3,754 metres high.

As days on the bike go, this really isn’t too bad at all and by about 12 pm we arrive at the visitors centre to see what walks are available for us to do. We call a couple of companies about doing some kayaking on the glacial lakes but they’ve now stopped running the tours. We fancy the look of an overnight walk into the mountains, but the hut is already full tonight due to a combination of it being a Saturday and the weather being so good.

We opt to pitch the tent again at a DOC campsite as the accommodation is a bit pricey here and it’s always good to save a bit of cash where we can. We get the tent pitched and then head off for a three hour return walk up the Hooker valley which takes us towards Mount Cook and eventually to a lake near the foot of the mountain which is fed by the Mueller glacier.

On the way we pass by a memorial to the hundreds of climbers that have been killed in the National Park and again it’s quite sobering to see how young many of these people died as a result of pursuing their passion to climb.

The walk culminates at the lake and it’s quite spectacular with large chunks of ice floating in the freezing cold water. Seeing these ice bergs floating seems like too good an opportunity to go for a swim and have a go at pushing one around. Whenever would you get to swim with giant ice cubes? Although Béné is keen on preserving her warmth, Carl strips off and heads in, with only some concerns about submerged boulders which would be impossible to see in the milky glacial water.

The water really is freezing and Carl is only in for about a minute to have a play with an ice cube and then get back out. Unfortunately the moment is slightly missed with the camera, so Carl hops back in for another dip. This time however the body seems to react and it seems like all blood flow has been shut off to the skin as the veins shut down supply to the extremities. Getting back out and getting dressed there’s no feeling left in the skin but with clothes back on Carl soon warms back up. Quite refreshed.

We have a relaxing walk back down for the ninety minute return journey to the tent. We’ve really taken our time over the walk and the sun has set by the time we get back. As we’re a bit peckish we get straight on with making dinner of noodles with slices of spicy pepperoni, sliced carrots and yams and a few chestnuts for good measure.

We then start getting a few things together as we may be slightly rushed in the morning with booking the hut for the walk, working out where to store our kit and then figuring out where to park the bikes while we’re away. But tomorrow is another day, and today was a good one.

Jour 398 – Samedi 21 Mai 2011. De Twizel au Parc National de Mont Cook, Nouvelle-Zélande.

Distance: 70 km– Temps à moto: 1 heures

La nuit a été froide, il y a du gel sur les motos quand on arrive à nous sortir des sacs de couchage, et le thermomètre est à 2,5 degrés dans l’entrée de la tente. Heureusement qu’on avait les bouillottes.

Après un petit déjeuner de porridge avec du miel, des morceaux d’orange et de banane et de chocolat noir avec un chocolat chaud on range nos affaires. Pendant que Carl range la tente, je repéré des châtaignes autours de nous, j’en ramasse quelques-unes, on pourra surement les cuisinera un moment ou un autre.

On prend la route à 10h30, on s’arrête au supermarché faire quelques courses au supermarché car il n’y en a pas dans le parc national. La route vers le parc national est agréable, elle passe le long du lac de Pukaki et on a une vue superbe sur les montagnes enneigées.

On arrive au centre d’informations du parc national vers midi et on essaye de voir si il est possible de faire du kayak sur un des lacs vers les glaciers ou si on peut monter a une des huttes un peu en hauteur. Malheureusement les locations de kayak ne sont pas possibles hors saison touristique et ce soir la hutte est pleine, bref, on va camper aux pieds des montagnes et on va faire une des marches de la vallée qui donne de belles vues sur les glaciers.

On va monter la tente au terrain de camping puis on va faire une petite marche. On suit le sentier de la vallée Hooker, le sentier monte doucement en direction de Mont Cook et finit au bord du lac qui est au pied du glacier Hooker. Le lac est une belle surprise : il y a plein de gros glaçons qui flottent au bord du lac. Carl ne résiste pas a une chance d’une bonne photo et va se baigner pour aller toucher les gros glaçons. Il va rapidement jusqu’aux glaçons et revient rapidement, mais comme les photos que j’ai prises ne sont pas super, il y retourne une autre fois. L’eau est vraiment froide et il se rhabille rapidement.

Sur le chemin de retours vers le camping on passe aussi a un monument a la mémoire des nombreux grimpeurs qui ont perdu leur vie dans ces belles montagnes. On prend notre temps pour retourner au camping et il fait nuit quand on rentre au camping, on cuisine rapidement notre repas de nouilles avec de la saucisse, une carotte, des yams et quelques châtaignes.

On prépare nos affaires pour pouvoir partir au plus tôt demain matin, on veut aller au centre de réservation de lit de la hutte au plus tôt pour avoir de la place, il n’est pas possible de réserver a l’avance, il faut y aller le jour même a partir de 8h30, il est censé faire veau pour les deux prochains jours, on espère vraiment pouvoir y monter.