As we watched and listened, snow avalanches periodically rumbled down Mt. Cook’s slopes, giving rise to a mist, which rose up and cloaked the mountain.
Per Wikipedia, “according to Maori legend Aoraki was a young boy who, along with his three brothers, were the sons ofRakinui, the Sky Father. On their voyage around thePapatuanuku, the Earth Mother, their canoe became stranded on a reef and tilted. Aoraki and his brothers climbed onto the top side of their canoe. However, the south wind froze them and turned them to stone. Their canoe became the Te Waka o Aoraki, theSouth Island, and their prows, theMarlborough Sounds. Aoraki, the tallest, became the highest peak, and his brothers created the Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, theSouthern Alps.”
This Wicked Campers compact, off-the-ground car-tent rental
set-up looked really nifty. We stuck with our ancient tent brought
over from the USA and a station wagon we plan to sell
before we leave New Zealand.
Like US National Parks, Yosemite, Glacier and Yellowstone, considerable effort’s invested in making these treasures easily accessible.Mt. Cook Village features an attractive lodge which even shows big screen movies about the great outdoors. We resisted the temptation to open our wallets and instead opted to experience the great outdoors firsthand.The visitors information / interpretive center frames a spectacular view as well providing elegantly displayed park and climber history, Maori culture, geology, flora and fauna info.
The camp was crowded! Across a camping area about the size of two large city blocks, guessing there was easily 100 campers or perhaps twice that or more.
RVs, vans, and tents inhabited by singles, couples, friends and families sprawled in a first-come first-serve fashion.There are no marked spots, just open areas, mostly meadow, with a few scattered shrubs, two clean, well maintained bathroom facilities (with flush toilets – oh my!) and a dishwashing sink area, a few drinking water spigots, and about a half dozen picnic tables.Camping fees were $10/person for tent campers like us, though not sure if it cost any more for RVs (in many places it does not).
Kea Point, like the other trails we’ve hiked in New Zealand’s
national parks, was well-constructed, clearly signed and easy to walk.
Thanks to the long summer sunlight, even after post-camp-set-up (not to mention our drive from the Dunedin area, with several tourist stops along the way) and village visit, there was still time for a short hike before supper.Conveniently, quite a few park trailheads begin at the campsite.
Kea Point is the perfect trail for time-pressed visitors – short, sweet with a fabulous view as the reward at the end of the trail.
We opted for the Kea trail, a lake overlook vista point which leads to a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks.It was a pleasant easy walk, and ironically, considering its name, one of the few touristy outdoor mountain spots without a Kea (click here to learn about the irascible Kea).
This intriguing formation peaked out of the lake at
Kea Point Lookout,as seen from my camera zoomed out 60x.
Despite the crowds, other than the relatively muted sounds of a few young children, the campground was surprisingly quiet and serene.Later, we enjoyed celestial treat, a beautiful, starry and relatively warm night, clear enough for the Milky Way to brush the night sky with its dense cloudy field of stars.
The air smelled clean, and there were few mosquitoes and no sand flies (more on sand flies in a future post).
This is a recent retrospective of our month-long New Zealand road trip, which started from North Islands, North Island, leaving Whangarei, January 10, 2016, all the way down to Bluff, New Zealand’s Southernmost South Island mainland point. We arrived in Canterbury Region, Mt Aoraki / Cook National Park (43°35′44.69″S 170°8′27.75″E) January 29, 2016, and left the following day.At the moment, we’re “back home” at Whangarei Town Basin Marina, North Island, (S35.43.474 E174.19.599).A week’s passed since we returned from our road trip, on February 7, 2016.Tomorrow we move to Whangarei’s Riverside Marina for 2-4 weeks of much-needed intensive boat work before we resume cruising.
In midsummer, there’s enticement for
butterflies from flowers
like this alpine daisy.
Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles (visiting USA, Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Galapagos [Ecuador], French Polynesia, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand). We will resume serious cruising when cyclone season ends in ~April 2016. We have not yet decided whether to sail to Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu then Australia (~4,000 miles), or just to Australia (~1,500 miles).
Welcome to Galley Wench Tales
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