Aoraki (Mt Cook National Park)

After two days visiting Christchurch, I went to pick up the camper van booked for my NZ road trip. The camper van is one of the cheapest ways to travel around New Zealand with total freedom because they are super well equipped. My flashy Jucy camper van was small but it had everything I needed: a small kitchen at the back and a bed inside. I will share it with Mladen (from Perth) during the first two weeks and a half and with Nathalie (from Lyon) during the last ten days of the road trip.

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While driving from Christchurch to Mount Cook we could already see some impressive sights, like Lake Tekapo. It was lupins‘ time (mid-November to December) and the lake shore looked very colorful. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day and the pics are not very good. In a country like New Zealand, where hikes and scenic rides are the main tourist activities, a good weather and light are very important, let’s cross the fingers for this trip!

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My hiking season in New Zealand started the following day at Mount Cook National Park. Mount Cook is the highest peak in Australasia (3724m). Its maori name, Aoraki, means “cloud piercer” because it is covered by clouds most of the time.

There are some walks in the area, we chose the Hooker Valley Track which is considered the best day hike plus it has been recently upgraded, cool!

This hike (10km, 3hrs return) heads up the Hooker Valley with views over Hooker Glacier and Mount Aoraki. We were super lucky with the weather: the sky was blue and although there were some clouds they seemed to move to let us enjoy the best views of the park.

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After crossing a second hanging bridge, we got the first views of Mt Aoraki. Wow, it was so beautiful and impressive that it is difficult to describe with words that first sight. Do you understand why is it called “cloud piercer” now? 😉

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A wooden walkway leads hikers to Hooker Lake, at the foot of Aoraki. Again, the clouds were with us that day because after a while we could see the mount fully and under a blue sky: fantastic! 🙂

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Hooker Lake was the end of the track. Surrounded by mountains, this is a quiet place with calm waters and some small icebergs floating, it was really nice. The sun was shining and I shared my picnic and travel tips with some French travelers there.

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It was a fantastic day and hike. I know we were very lucky with the weather, not all the people can say they saw Mt Cook fully, with no clouds!

Back to the car park, we drove to Queenstown, where we slept that night.

My Tips :

  • Glentanner Park Centere is the closest campsite to Mount Cook and one of my favourite ones. Half an hour of free internet connection, which is very rare in NZ! Nice views and the common room is also nice;
  • I preferred Shotover Top 10 Holiday Park (10 min drive from Queenstown centre) to the central campsite. This one is cheaper, smaller and with a friendly atmosphere. Actually it was one of the best campsites in NZ in my opinion!

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