Mt. Cook/Tekapo

Day #6: Mt Cook

Journal #6: Mt Cook
Date: 3/7/16
Cover Photo: “What’s the World Without Enigma?”
Sheep Spotted: ~1,200

****This will be the last post until 3/10/16 as I will be backpacking on the Routeburn Track for the next few days****

Waking up in Mount Cook is like waking up in a fairy tale- completely surrounded by mountains, you can just barely see the sun rising up over the clouds, softly spreading its light on the land below. Also worth mentioning is the clouds decided not to cooperate with the sun today and poured rain for a few hours.

Fear not though dear readers- your favorite fearless traveller threw caution to the wind and headed out into the wild…

My target trail today was the Tasman trail-which is the site of today’s photo. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the Tasman trail ironically fails to deliver on the one thing it promises: a beautiful shot of the Tasman Glacier. I’d love to meet the people who design the trail and ask: Why bother calling it the Tasman trail, if the closest you can get to the glacier is probably minimum 2 miles? But I digress…

The area is stunningly gorgeous- I actually had to choose between about 5 different images I took at around sunrise this morning before choosing the one above. There was also (somewhat bizarrely) no other people around- I had the entire area to myself. To put that in perspective, I tried to come to this spot yesterday around 5pm and I couldn’t find a single place to park my car. Apparently the Chinese tour buses are not into early rises…

Anywho, I spent the sunrise at the alleged “Tasman Glacier track” before heading back to Queenstown (which I’ve started referring to casually as “QT”- really hoping that catches on). Queenstown unfortunately was also covered in rain, so I ended up laying low for an hour before checking in for my “pre-trip briefing” for my backpacking trip to the Routeburn Track.

The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” and is roughly 22 miles long. Generally it’s done over the course of 3 days (2 nights) since roughly 60% of it is a very steep uphill climb. I chose to do it as part of an organized group ($$), primarily since I don’t own any camping equipment and renting it is expensive out here.

Anyways, after attending the pre-trip briefing, I’m not sure if I’m climbing a medium sized mountain in the summer in Southern New Zealand or attempting to scale Mount Everest during the winter. The poor girl the backpacking company hired to do the briefing was forced to read through all these talking points about arctic winds, bone chilling cold, and the need to be wearing “minimum 4 layers.” Having been to Mount Cook (The tallest mountain in New Zealand) where the temperatures was a dangerous 55 degrees Fahrenheit, we’ll see about that…

Tonight I finally went to the main craft beer bar in Queenstown- and wouldn’t you know it, the bartender is an American from Oakland, California. Evidently you can get a 1-year work visa in New Zealand for free, so he’s doing that. The beer here was much better, although he admitted since NZ has just started to grow their own hops, the quality is not as fresh as in the States. Here are the beers I tried:

1) Lord Almighty Yakura IPA- Very good. Slightly lighter version of an American IPA running at about 6% alcohol- goes down smoothly with a nice, sweet hoppy taste. Highly drinkable- I could easily drink it all night.

2) (Brewery name?) Black IPA- Above Average. Black IPA’s are the ultimate hit or miss beer- they are an Imperial IPA (read: lots of hops) brewed with darker malt. The balance between those two is key, as the taste of one easily overwhelms the other. This particular blend leaned more towards the Malt, meaning it tasted with darker coffee like notes, with a mildly sweet aftertaste of hops. Not a great beer to drink all night- but a decent one for a tasting platter- I used it to wash down a pulled pork sandwich and it worked great.

Tomorrow- I head out early to the Routeburn- so I will miss a few days of blogging. Fear not though- I will be back with a vengeance and hopefully some amazing photos!




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