Rakaia Gorge and Mount Cook 26th March – 2nd April Blog 157

Rakaia Gorge and Mount Cook 26th March – 2nd April Blog 157

I come back to the tent clutching a novel from the campsite library.  I haven’t had time to read any books since we left and I’m not about to let this one escape especially as it’s an author I like. For the next two days every small chance I get I have my nose in the book. In between reading we get to go and enjoy the view of the gorge from the surrounding hillside walk. The bridge was built in the 1880′s and is unsual in that it is an upsidedown structure with all the ironwork underneath.
The tent zips are being a problem again not good timing as a weather front is coming in. The storm guys are pegged out and we drape a tarpaulin to stop it blowing in as we can’t zip the outer shut as the zip runner is worn out.
All is well in the morning the puddles are drying and we aim for lake Alexandrina. We head through Burkes pass and stop at a historic union church which has stood in the same place since 1872 before we push on arriving at lake Tekapo. Here we look around The Church of the Good Shepherd situated right on the lake shore, there is also  a monument to the sheep dogs which helped farm this mountainous area nearby. Then it’s on to lake Alexandrina for the night.
We pass a canal next day with a salmon farm on our route to Mount Cook the temptation is too great and we pause to join the other fishermen trying to catch escapees from the nets but after enjoying a good lunch and an hour or so fishing we leave empty handed.
The views just get better and better and pulling into a viewing spot we spy an interesting caravan and get chatting to the owners.. Mario and Hil have redecorated their old caravan in true 70′s style and we are treated to coffee sitting in stylish chairs, everything is just right for the period it is a work of art. We meet again in campsite at the base of mount Cook that night.
We are lucky there is not a cloud in the sky and we see Mount Cook in it’s entirety after waking to watch the dawn break over the mountain we choose to walk up the track to the Muller hut. The sign says 3-3.5hrs. It is a grueling 5… we reach the halfway at midday from here it ramps ups and we are scrabbling over rock slides and loose shale, the sun has been relentless beating down all day. Was it worth it… oh boy yes, what a setting. The hut is on a plateau overlooking glaciers, we heard and saw one letting go turning into a snow waterfall. The views are worth the hard climb and, our only regret is we didn’t check the facilities in the hut and book a nights stay. We would have been ok as it had matresses and gas cookers so we could have traveled light (we dont have a rucksack) as it is we have to retrace our steps back down.
It’s almost harder going down and takes us 3hrs, the last third was the hardest our legs are like jelly, our knees are shot and boy was it good to be on flat ground again.
We don’t get much rest in the night the wind really whips up and breaks one of the tensioning straps in the small hours. We have a comical next day following our climb, any hills (up or down) results in oohs and aahhs along with creaks and groans (like a couple of old crocks) but we get out to Tasman lake in the next valley and view the glaciers icebergs. Returning to the camp ours is the only tent up in a once packed site. Another weather front is expected we look at the colour of the sky and decide to pull the tent down in record time and head for YHA in town where we find the rest of the campers.
Out the next day when stopping for a photo up Lindis pass I notice oil is dripping out underneath. Kev shuts off the engine and the flow reduces so we know it’s under pressure, he locates the problem to a blocked breather hose which had become hard and brittle and manages to fix it there and then..
Our camp for the night is in the grounds of the old coaching house on the top of Lindis pass it will be a cold one. There is an old store house come hunters cottage we investigate. It has four walls, a roof, a fireplace with dry wood, two single beds with matresses and a rat.  If you say it really quickly you might not notice the rat bit. Ok I didn’t actually see the rat but the evidence was fairly obvious. We light the fire later Kev goes to get something off the bike he returns saying the rat just jumped off the bike. On reflection we decide to choose, a cold night with the rat chewing the tent or warm night with rat in the shelter. The fire wins hands down but the rat gets revenge at 5am by launching from the fireplace on to the beds. I scream which wakes up Kev with a start but fortunately scares off the rat. There is a really hard frost on the bike in the morning so last nights decision was a good one.
Our heading is Wanaka we arrive in town and stop for an ice cream (its nice and warm during the day but cold at night)  here we see Jeanette and Ernie again so wave them over. We catch up over coffee they are staying at the campsite in Albert town just outside Wanaka, we will probably see them later
We head to the gypsy fair in town for a look round, on leaving we are waiting to pull out of a junction when a man pulls over opposite and beckons us over. It turns out Tim used to have a Spada in the UK and rode it across the USA before shipping it and himself out here. He’s a great bloke and we have a good chat concluding with him inviting us to stay which we happily accept.
His mate Biggles is also staying but his wife is nice and makes space for us on the airbed in front of the woodburner (much warmer)
The sun is over the yardarm we are in good company, I make that beer oclock.

  1. #1 by Julie on May 19, 2011 - 9:32 pm

    Stunning photos. The amount of beauty in the world never ceases to amaze. Keep up the good “work”. Even if you don’t do the full blog, I hope you are recording everything for posterity?

    Karen, can you remember camping in a frost on the Isle of Wight – you may also remember that Sprout’s mattess (Delores) went down on him … I had to drink just to keep warm, honest …

    My theory about beer o’clock is as per the song, “it’s five o’clock somewhere …”!

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