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Posts Tagged ‘Country Walking’

Today I’m on my way….heading home.

Its really nice to be able to say ‘home’, even though it’s a room in a shared house, its a base and home – for now. Although it was quite suitable in the past to stay in a b&b or guesthouse between jobs, the security of having a base is so much better.

Part of the reason I enjoyed staying at b&bs etc was because I used to travel between jobs, but now my little πŸ’™ lives in Ramsgate and I have a powerful reason to want a base to return to so I can spend precious time with him.

So today has finally arrived after what has, once again, been a very stressful 2 weeks. I’ve had 3 very stressful assignments since the beginning of the year and my goddess I’m tired.

I was hoping to start working again next week, but as has been the case in the last year, the agency do not have much work available. So I’ve accepted a position in Devon that only starts on 31st. Although this will have a slightly negative impact on my income, it does mean I have a good break and space to breathe.

I’ve started the process for claiming my pension, albeit insufficient to even pay my rent, it will give me a wee boost to save for my walking trips. I’ve not worked in the country long enough to qualify for a decent amount, but as the blurb goes….every little bit helps.

So talking of trips, crikey – after much rejigging my dates for my planned πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” Thames Path walk in April, and trying for the last 2 days to squeeze the dates etc, I finally got a decent looking schedule worked out, sat down last night to start changing the dates for the bookings I had already made, only to find that the prices are almost double in May. So that puts paid to that little escapade. Ugh. My head.

Back to square one as they say. I was so upset last night that I just shut my computer, used a few choice words at commercialism 🀬🀬🀬 and went to bed.

So over the next few days I’m going to go back to basics, cancel all the bookings I made for April since I can’t travel then anyway, do a new search. Thank goodness for booking.com where you can reserve a place, but have the option of cancelling within a reasonable time.

However, I am determined to do this trip….

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I’m not sure if I mentioned this before πŸ€”πŸ€” but I’m walking the Thames Path for my birthday…its a milestone birthday in as much as according to the government I can officially retire!!!Β  πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ if only.

Initially I really wanted to walk from source to sea, but have not been able to find a good relevant guide book. The Cicerone books are excellent but they only had a sea to source guide, which has been irritating me.
So I’ve been pondering how I can turn this around so I can enjoy the walk instead of feeling like I’m doing it the wrong way around…

And I just had an idea πŸ’‘ ping the oldΒ  🧠 woke up….I shall pretend I’m an explorer πŸ˜πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ who has just stumbled upon this great river, and now I have to follow it to find the mysterious source hidden in the jungle….in reality it’s in a barren field and the stream is mostly dry,πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ but who’s checking πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ€·β€β™€οΈ this is my adventure and if I say it’s a jungle, then it’s a jungle πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ†πŸ…πŸ¦πŸ˜πŸ¦’πŸŠπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

Sometimes it helps to be on the verge of senility, you can make up all sorts of πŸ’©πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

Thames Path…I shall πŸ‘€πŸ‘‰ in April well that’s the plan anyway…the PM may scupper those plans once again, unless I go incognito.

Walking the Thames Path has been a dream of mine ever since we lived in London, and I’m actually quite excited that finally I can bring my dream to fruition πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Hoorah

Gravesend
The O2
Bermondsey
City of London – Commemorating the 1666 Great Fire of London in 2016
Westminster
Chelsea
Richmond lock
The Great River Race 2016 Richmond
The Gloriana processing along The Thames during the Tudor Pull near Teddington
Teddington Lock (during my 3 Days in London days)

Over the years I’ve walked sections of the Thames Path from Gravesend to Hampton Court and I initially toyed with the idea of skipping this section, which will take me 3 days of solid walking at approximately 20/5 kms per day, BUT I know myself too well…I won’t feel as if I’ve ‘actually’ walked the whole Thames Path unless I walk the whole route.

So, according to the guide, the path starts at the Thames Barrier, so that’s where I shall start my adventure…

The Thames Barrier

Did you know that the River Thames, a tidal river, is considered to be part of the English Coast right up until Teddington Lock ….

All I need now is for everyone to 🀞🀞🀞 that we don’t go into another lockdown before 20th April…thank you πŸ˜‰

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Nearing the end of my virtual journey, with just 46 miles/74 kms to go…this postcard and story about the route, popped up on 26 January….

Summer fruit orchards and wineries seem to be the economic backbone of Kurow, a small town that in the 1920s was the base for the construction of the Waitaki Dam.

Kurow sits within the Waitaki Valley, a rich limestone region with a cool maritime climate. With warm summers and long, dry autumns this region is a wonderful environment to grow grapes for wines such as pinots noir and pinot gris. The first vines were only planted in 2001, making this valley a very young winery region. I can imagine it took passionate and dedicated viticulturists to have the courage to explore new grounds and experiment with different plantings. Small scale, family-run vineyards are now dotted through the valley creating bespoke, boutique wines.

Stage 7
Stage 7

Just outside of Kurow is a family-run orchard growing summer fruits such as peaches, apricots and cherries. Conscious about fruit that is rejected by supermarkets due to imperfections, the family built a commercial kitchen and went about turning rejected fruit into a range of products such as jams, sorbets and baked goods. With a half dozen box of summerfruit tarts under my arms, I was ready to leave Kurow.

Joining the trail alongside the Waitaki River, I marvelled at its characteristics. This 68mi (110km) braided river begins at the confluence of Pukaki, Tekapo and Ohau Rivers with Lake Benmore atop it. The river acts like a link between the lower lakes by running through and connecting Lake Benmore to Lake Aviemore to Lake Waitaki before it freely and swiftly flows the rest of the way into the Pacific Ocean.

Between Kurow and Duntroon, I had to ford three rivers and I was grateful they were not flooded permitting me to travel beside Waitaki River and admire the mountain range behind it, instead of using a trail next to the highway. I’m also glad I read the instructions to not touch the fences along the way as many are electrically charged and not necessarily marked for information. Might’ve added an element of excitement I wasn’t really looking for.

Just before reaching Duntroon, I stopped at the Takiroa Rock Art Shelter to see the Maori art on the limestone rock that dates back to between 1400 and 1900AD. After the rock art site, I carried on through Duntroon’s Wetlands into Duntroon straight to the local pub for a feed and more Waitaki Valley wine sampling.

Seeing those grapes reminded me of when I was in Portugal on the Portuguese Camino coastal route to Santiago. The path invariably goes inland at some stages, and one day it took me through a vineyard. I shouted “Ola!! Buenas dias” to an elderly couple amongst the vines cutting down bunches of purple grapes. The lady and I got to chatting (her English was way superior to my Portuguese), and it turned out her daughter was at that time, living and working in London πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ How cool is that. So after a long conversation, she gave me a big fat bunch of the MOST delicious, juicy, aromatic grapes you could imagine…the flavour was like heaven.

I strolled along eating the grapes with relish, and shortly afterwards met the one and only snake in my entire Camino. 🐍😱😱 It was lying there, on the path, looking for all the world like a skinny stick, and as I was hesitating, thinking “is it, or isn’t it ” – the bastard moved. 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣😱😱😱😱

It still cracks me up when I think about that…3 things happened simultaneously : I discovered that I could indeed run if I needed to, I lost most of the grapes, and peed my myself 😜😜😜😜 of course the bloody snake slithered off into the grass with an evil grin ‘gotcha’. 😬😬 not funny.

Of course, encountering that snake, thereafter put a slightly different perspective on my walk, and I never looked at a stick in quite the same way again, or crept off into the bushes without trepidation 🧐🧐🧐

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my Alps to Ocean virtual challenge across New Zealand. And I’m now seriously considering actually doing this route when I visit the island. It might mean postponing my trip down south to Ozzie land for a year to save more funds, but it would be totally awesome. And of course, if I did, and since I’m going that way, I’ve pinned my ‘intention’ to my metaphorical board of walking the Kumano Kodo in Japan. I mean seriously, how awesome would that be!!

Like the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is designated a UNESCO heritage site and would slot in nicely with my Project 101 https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html

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I got back yesterday after working away for 5 weeks and opened my vast pile of post….

It’s like Christmas really πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

And in the pile were my last 4 Conqueror medals πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

In order of completion, from left to right

Great Ocean Road, Mt. Fuji, Conquer 2020 and Alps to Ocean which I completed this month. Awesome πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

My target for 2020 was 2,020kms and I reached that on 31 December 2020

I probably walked wayyyyy more than that, but I mostly count ‘boots on’ mileage and if I’m stuck indoors at work and unable to get out for my break on any particular day, I count my indoor walking, which extraordinarily sometimes amounts to 12kms between going on duty at 8am to 2pm when I take my 2 hour break. Mostly I try to get out to walk, but sometimes like these last few days, I get snowed in, or its pouring with rain….ergo, no good for walking if you don’t have the right gear.

I first started these virtual challenges on 26th March 2020, and the Alps to Ocean is my 9th challenge completed. I have 5 to do this year, as well as the Conquer 2021 challenge which is a compilation of all challenges walked during the year. Of course they may well introduce more…in which case 😁😁😁 and ‘boots on’ and getttt walking!!!

Also in the mail were my next two Cicerone books: The Thames Path, which I’m planning on walking in April for my birthday. Its something I’ve wanted to do for years, and years, and of course I’ve walked many miles along the River Thames between Hampton Court Palace and as far as Greenwich – not all in one go, but different sections over the years, and right along the whole length between Rotherhithe and Lambeth, also at different times.

And of course the South Downs Way is a desirable walk for this year too.🀞🀞🀞 because so many factors affect that possibility.

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I reached this stage on 19 January, so not too far behind the last stage…either I was walking a lot more, or the distance to this stage was shorter. Of course all I have to do is check the details on the postcard!! In real life, from 1st January to the 19th I’d walked 128km which is just over 80 miles. Not too bad.

And doesn’t that water look amazing. Reminds me of the sea along the Thanet coastline when the water gets cloudy from the chalk after a storm…

Defined as “a populated area less than a town”, Otematata is more of a holiday town nowadays when it’s small population of around 180 explodes to 5,000 during the summer season. With easy access to both Lake Benmore, downstream Lake Aviemore and nearby hiking trails (known as tramping in NZ), holiday makers swarm to the area for camping, water skiing, boating, fishing, swimming and cycling among other activities.

Stage 6
Stage 6

Otematata sprung up in 1958 as a base for construction workers of the Benmore and Aviemore Dams. Within a year the population grew to 450 and at its peak it was as high as 4,000 residents. Built by the Ministry of Works the town had all the necessary facilities and services such as schools, clubs, pub, cinema and mall. The 1,500 strong workforce of engineers, builders, electricians, concreters and truckies spent seven years building the dam. Once the dam was finished, as it often happens with these kind of projects, the town was slowly dismantled. The houses that were trucked into town were years later trucked out and moved to Twizel for the next project. Benmore Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in NZ and the largest of eight in the Waitaki hydro scheme. As the second largest hydro station in the country, Benmore generates sufficient electricity to cover nearly 300,000 NZ homes.

Leaving Otematata, I travelled north on a sealed pathway alongside the Waitaki River until I reached the massive Benmore Dam and stood atop it with a bird’s eye view of the lake to the north and the river to the south. When the lake is over capacity, the floodgates open to release the water down a spillway and to prevent erosion a lip was inserted at the end to deflect the water. The spillway can handle ten times the normal river flow thereby allowing it to cope with severe flooding.

I skirted around the shore on a narrow sealed road to Deep Stream Track on Lake Aviemore for a walk along a flooded canyon. The deep green water was quite inviting for a swim but I settled for a picnic under a shaded tree enjoying the tranquility of this location and the reflection of the hills on the water.

A little further I crossed the Aviemore Dam back onto the State Highway and was relieved to be travelling on an off-road path beside the main road all the way to Waitaki Dam. Aviemore Dam was built in 1968 and the construction was on uneven ground because the Waitangi Fault runs beneath it. Although at the time of construction the fault was considered inactive, in the 2000s the fault was upgraded to dormant and as such the dam was reinforced against earthquakes and potential landslides. Because of the fault the dam is a mixed structure being part solid rock topped with concrete on the north side and earth-fill where the fault line runs beneath on the south side.

The Waitaki Dam is steeped in NZ history. As the smallest in the Waitaki hydro scheme, it is also the oldest having been built in 1935. Being the first dam to be built on the South Island, it was also the last to use pick and shovel. These archaic tools were retained because politicians wanted to reduce the unemployment rate during the Depression Era.

The building of the Waitaki Dam inadvertently played a major role in the birth of the social welfare system. In 1928, the Waitaki Hydro Medical Association together with the Waitaki Hospital Board developed a scheme to deduct monthly fees from wages in order to provide medical and ambulance services to the workers. When two politicians, one a doctor and the other a reverend, took office in 1935, they based the social welfare scheme on the one developed by the dam project.

From here it was a 5mi (8km) journey into Kurow. I heard the Waitaki Valley, which begins in Omarama, is a young winery region with a flair for developing good pinot noir and pinot gris. I’ll be sure to sample some after a hearty meal. I’m thinking fish and chips at the nearest pub.

I could live with fish and chips!! And do my journey continues. Seriously though, reading these emails makes me really really want to walk this route for real….

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Now that I’m at my next booking my time has been limited. But I try to get out every day and explore the area.

After a week of daily walking, I reached the 4th stage on 10th January…

The roads here are very long and it takes me a good 10 minutes to reach an intersection, which means I can’t go too far afield as it will take too long to get back. But I’ve made a point of trying out different routes, in as much as my options are minimal, but I’ve discovered some lovely country lanes.

Meanwhile, on my virtual journey…

Here I am at Lake Ohau, the third and smallest parallel glacial lake in the Mackenzie Basin that serves as a water storage for the Hydro scheme. It is connected to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo (the other two parallel lakes) via an artificial canal. Lake Ohau is stunningly located between The Barrier mountain range to the west, Ben Ohau range to the east and Naumann range to the north which lies between Hopkins and Dobson rivers that feed into the lake.

Stage 4

This turquoise blue lake is a perfect environment for both powered and non-powered activities. Although at the height of summer the temperature reaches a mere 60Β°F (15Β°C) any swimming enthusiast wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity for a crisp splash in the lake. Luckily for me the weather was in my favour and I went for a brisk swim before starting my onward journey. However, I did hear that any sailor or windsurfer on the lake must be mindful of the northerly winds as the water gets choppy very quickly.

It might be debatable what’s considered a national dish in NZ, perhaps fish and chips or perhaps a gourmet meat pie. No matter, my choice was the traditional piping hot meat pie encased in a crispy pastry. This humble meat pie has been part of NZ’s cuisine since 1863 when the early British settlers brought it to NZ’s shores. It’s the perfect size to be eaten with one hand whilst chugging their popular Lemon & Paeroa soft drink with the other. The soft drink’s history goes way back to 1907 when it was originally manufactured in the town of Paeroa by combining lemon juice and carbonated mineral water.

After my finger-licking good pie and L&P hydration, I set off for what was to be the hardest part of the journey. The first 3.5mi (6km) was an easy section as I traversed the lower slopes of the Ohau range across several creeks before I found myself on a narrow track and a sustained climb of about 2.5mi (4km) to the highest point of the trail at 2,952ft (900m). Not that I particularly trusted that I was at the highest point for a while since all along there were several “false summits” where the trail appeared to reach the highest point to then discover that there was more upwards winding to go. During the winter months part of this upward climb proves to be even more hazardous as it becomes part of an avalanche path.

Reaching the top was quite the accomplishment but given its exposure and strong winds I spent little time admiring the view and started my descent. If I thought the climb was a challenge the steep descent with its tight steep bends was even more ghastly for the next half-mile or so.

The rest was a rolling descent crossing several streams. Clean drinking water could be collected at these streams enabling me to top up my bottles. The track joined with Quailburn Road and for the remainder of my journey I travelled beside Quail Burn River first to the west of me and once I crossed it to the east of me, almost like a constant companion, until we parted way with the river flowing into Ahuriri River and me rolling into Omarama for the night.

Like the Mt. Fuji virtual challenge which I finished in December, I’m really enjoying learning more about New Zealand and its history. The powers that be could/should consider teaching history and geography in this way, the subjects would be so much more interesting.

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With just 3 days to go till I finish this booking, I went through my photos to decide which houses I loved the most…these are the ones

This was my absolute #1
This house is for sale…a mere Β£450,000 and lots of renovation to be done
Forge Farm πŸ§‘πŸ’›

Most of the days were grey and overcast or rainy, but I saw a few beautiful sunrises and a few equally beautiful sunsets….just never on the same day 😁😁

Sunrise
Sunrise
Sunset
Sunset

Its been a vast but interesting area to explore and I certainly got a lot of mileage behind me.

One of the few sunny days, albeit freezing cold

I am however really looking forward to returning to the sea.

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Except for a very early morning walk, I didn’t do any serious walking on New Year’s day, or the 2nd January, and rather spent those days with my lovely family and some Granny time with my beloved grandson. But I got going again on the 3rd January and once again managed to get in a really decent amount of kms. Its brilliant walking early in the morning along the coast, I hardly ever see anyone about, and as a bonus, if the weather is fine, I get to watch the sunrise. 😊😊

Sunrise – 3rd January 2021 Isle of Thanet

So here we go…stage 3 of the Alps to Ocean route…

I enjoyed some exploring in Twizel. It’s the largest town in the region which unsurprisingly triples in population during the summer period.

Alps to Ocean – Twizel πŸ˜ƒ what a name

The town is relatively young having been founded in 1968 to house construction workers on the hydro scheme. Clever town planning placed all the services and schools in the centre with housing surrounding the central hub. Pedestrian paths straight into the centre made it more direct for residents to walk instead of driving the looped roads to get to the same destination. When the scheme wound up 15 years later the local residents successfully fought to save their town.

To the south of town is Lake Ruataniwha, an artificial lake formed in the late 1970s as part of the Hydro scheme. The lake is fed by Ohau River to the west and the overflow discharged from Lake Ohau further west. At 3mi (4.5km) long the lake is open to water enthusiasts with activities such as sailing, water skiing and rowing. I chose to stand-up paddle board but those mountainous views and blue lake were spellbinding. I should’ve just sat on a boat and soaked up the landscape.

Since I was already dressed for water activities I ducked across the State Highway to a waterhole I wanted to swim in. As blue as Lake Pukaki was, this ‘no name’ waterhole was emerald green greatly emphasised by the reflection of the willow trees on the waterhole’s edge. There was a time when the swimming hole was part of the Ohau River before the nearby dam and artificial lake disrupted the river’s flow and greatly reduced its size in the east separating the swimming hole from what is left of the river. If you have a satellite view of the waterhole it looks like a big emerald green bath.

Back in the late 1800s when Ohau River had its natural flow, crossing it was done by wire rope and a cage. In 1890 they built, what is now referred to as, the Old Iron Bridge. It served travellers for the next 80 years until the Hydro scheme came into the area, built Lake Ruataniwha, realigned the State Highway and bypassed the iron bridge. The bridge is now listed on NZ Historic Places Trust. A small monument can be found near the lake in memory of a mother and child who drowned in 1879 whilst fording, illustrating the difficulties and dangers of crossing the Ohau River at the time.

There’s another swimming hole called, Loch Cameron, northwest of Twizel, worthy of a visit but if I hoped to get to my next destination sometime today, I had to get cracking with my journey.

Making my way out of Twizel via the southern edge of Lake Ruataniwha, I followed the trail along the west side of Ohau River to Ohau weir. The weir is a low head dam that was constructed with a siphon to maintain a minimum flow into the Ohau River but conversely may overflow restricting access to travellers. Not needing to concern myself with flooding, I enjoyed my travel along the shore of Lake Ohau reaching the village for some lakeside dining and background view of Ben Ohau range.

Just for fun, and because I’m totally interested in finding out more, I did a Google maps search of Twizel and Lake Pukaki, then looked for images. OMG…its is breathtakingly beautiful!!! That water and the landscape… wowww. I’d probably end up wanting to stay 🀭🀭🀭

After this my wings were clipped, so to speak, and I started a new booking on the 4th January so my real time walking has been limited to 2 hours a day, weather permitting, which of course impacts my distances. Too sad.

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Since I was still at home, and had a few days yet before starting work, I was lucky enough to be able to put in some really good distances to get started on this challenge.

My lodging on Lake Pukaki was under the star-studded sky of the southern hemisphere. Here the Southern Cross, Milky Way and the inverted view of the Orion constellation are just part of the night sky spectacle. Lake Pukaki sits in the Mackenzie region, one of very few regions around the world classified as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Due to its limited light pollution, the night sky with millions of stars are visible as far as the eyes can see.

Stage 2

Lake Pukaki is the largest of three parallel alpine lakes in the Mackenzie Basin with Lake Tekapo and Lake Ohau being the other two. It’s milky blue colour is a result of finely ground rock particles from glaciers. The lake is part of the Waitaki hydroelectric scheme providing hydroelectricity, irrigation and municipal water supply. The lake originally had an outflow at the southern end but it has since been dammed. To increase storage capacity the lake has been raised twice eventually submerging Te Kohai Island which appeared on NZ’s five pound note pre-decimal currency era. Looking at some of the old images of Lake Pukaki there was a time in the mid-19th century when ferries were used to cross the river outlet south of the lake with a hotel on the bank. A bridge was added in the late 1800s. Both the bridge and hotel have now perished with the raising of the lake.

Firing up for today’s longer journey, I indulged in a sizeable breakfast, a quick swim in the lake to get the blood circulating and I was ready to tackle the next stage. I continued the trail on the eastern side of the lake on a nice quiet country road. Travelling along the shoreline of the lake I was greeted with incredible northward views of the Southern Alps and Mount Cook and kept imagining them as the mythical Aoraki and his three brothers. Directly across the length of the lake was the Ben Ohau range known for its ski touring route across the top of it.

Carrying on the trail I crossed the Pukaki Dam towards the Salmon Shop at Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre. It all went rather well until I reached the southern section of the lake and found myself exposed to the gusty winds from the north-west. It was quite the balancing act aiming to move forwards without taking a tumble down the cliffs and drop-offs near the trail.

With a stop at the Salmon Shop for some locally farmed freshwater salmon, I took this opportunity to gather my rattled nerves, have a rest and absorb the last of this vista. I left the lake behind and moved on south across the Pukaki Flats, a substantial expanse of tussock grasslands and a very flat route. These dry grassy plains are distinctive to the South Island and are largely used for grazing livestock. Without any shading available, plenty of water was necessary and a good head covering.

Having made it into the region’s largest town with time to spare, I’m off to see the highlights before I turn in for the night. I’ll tell you all about it in my next letter.

Wow, amazing. I really love the amount of information the Conqueror organisers provide along with the postcards. Plenty of hints and tips amongst the history, which is just enough to be really interesting – its certainly piqued my interest. Note to self ‘take swim costume’ πŸŠβ€β™€οΈπŸŠβ€β™€οΈπŸŠβ€β™€οΈ

Damn, I want to go now πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ anyone know a millionaire with a few thousand pounds lying around that they don’t need….😁😁 I really REALLY want to see those stars 🌌🌌🌌

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Immediately after finishing the Mt. Fuji challenge, and without further ado, I started my next challenge: the Alps to Ocean route in New Zealand on 30th December 2020.

This brought me to the end of the year and helped me to reach my Conquer 2020 goal of 2,020 kms.

And off we go….from one mountain on an island to another mountain on an island…

Imagine crisp alpine air, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, milky lakes and starlit nights. The training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbing skills in preparation for Everest. The legendary story of Aoraki and his three brothers. These are just some of the highlights of Mount Cook.

Stage 1

At 12,217ft (3,724m) tall Mount Cook is located on the South Island and the tallest mountain in New Zealand. It sits within the Mount Cook National Park which runs 37mi (60km) in a southwest-northeast direction. Home to more than 400 flora and fauna the national park is part of the Te Wāhipounamu South Westland World Heritage Site. The park is also home to 35 species of birds, including the only alpine parrot called Kea.

When I was looking into Mount Cook, I was wondering about the 98ft (30m) height discrepancy between different written sources. Further investigations revealed that in 1991 an avalanche of 350 million cubic feet (10MmΒ³) of snow and rock followed by twenty years of erosion had shrunk the mountain’s elevation by 98ft (30m).

Of the twelve largest glaciers in New Zealand, eight of them are within the park with Tasman Glacier being the longest at 15mi (24km). The glacier terminates in the Tasman Lake which up until the 1990s never existed. The lake was formed due to rapid glacial melting whilst the glacier itself continues to recede annually by as much as 2,697ft (822m). It is anticipated that within a few decades the glacier will be completely gone and the lake fully formed.

The lake’s primary outflow is the alpine braided Tasman River which flows south for 16mi (25km) through the Tasman Valley and into Lake Pukaki. The glacier, lake and river were named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 was the first European to sight the northwest coast of NZ’s South Island.

My journey begins at the base of Mount Cook, northwest of the river. Needing to cross the river to connect to Rotten Tommy trail, I took a short helicopter flight. The aerial view of this glacially-fed river and Mount Cook was a sight to behold. From Rotten Tommy, I took a southward bound route alongside the Tasman River. Although part of the route was quite rough and I had to cross several creeks, eventually the track changed to gravel road and made it easier to navigate towards my first overnight stop. Being a clear and sunny day, I had the treat of seeing Mount Cook in the distance rising above the lower snow-capped peaks in the National Park.

Before I go let me tell you about the Ngāi Tahu legend. The story goes that once the “Gods existed in the midst of a great sea of nothingness” and Raki, the Sky Father and Pokoharua-te-po, his wife had four sons, all living in the heavens. Raki left his wife to be with Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, and together they created the world. Aoraki, the eldest son of Raki, along with his three brothers came from the heavens with a canoe in an attempt to persuade their father to return to their mother. Upon seeing him together with his new wife, the brothers knew Raki would never return. The brothers decided to go home but unfortunately their canoe wouldn’t rise and following strong winds and rising seas, the canoe overturned tipping the brothers into the water. Climbing atop the upturned canoe they waited for help. As time passed with no help coming, they eventually turned to stone. The canoe became the Southern Island and the brothers became the Southern Alps with Aoraki (Mount Cook) being the highest peak.

It all sounds absolutely amazing. I’m really going to have to seriously consider planning to walk these routes for real as part of my Project 101, especially if I want to see that glacier before it disappears completely – I’ve got just over 4 years to save…

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Observations on life and books...

Book reviews and tidbits on life.

World Wide Walkies

Adventure Travel With Dogs

1000 Places and Memories

Best collection of moments, places and memories

Me As Mom 🌍πŸ₯ΎπŸ‘’

Bringing Mommy Positivity One Laugh At A Time

Retire In Branson

Enjoying Life in the Ozarks

Cafe Catalina

Life, as told by the caffeine-fueled Cat Ramos

Wake up!

Operation Get A Life

40thousandkm

: around the world :