|MT COOK REGION|
A 2 day trip to Mueller Hut at 1800' and a day walk up to Hooker Glacier. Fantastic mountain views all around this area. The Mt Cook region is not really a walkers area, there are no multi-day tramping options open, this is mountaineering and climbing country. However there are a number of day walks that take you up glacial valleys or to high viewpoints. Mt Cook, at 3754' the highest mountain in NZ, dominates everything, and is such a beautiful shape along with Mt Tasman. In the height of summer you can sit in snow and sunshine watching avalanches coming of Mt Sefton. There is limited accommodation available in Mt Cook village, Youth Hostel, expensive Hotel and some other holiday acommodation plus a basic DOC campsite nearby. There is a better campsite about 20kms away at Glentanner, cabins available here, we stayed there. If you intend to stay some days in this area then bring your own food, there is an expensive and limited food store in Mt Cook, otherwise nothing.
DAY 1....To Mueller Hut
This is a very, very steep climb from Mt Cook village - about 4 to 5kms and about 1100' of ascent. Strong thighs for the ascent and strong knees needed for the descent! Left car at DOC Campsite, beautiful clear sunny day. A stepped climb up to Sealy Tarns - welcome rest by 2 small tarns, great views already. Hard going on scree higher up before short snow crossing to the ridge. Avalanches on Mt Sefton, even better views now. Unbelievable hut location - on edge of snowfield near cliff, toilet even closer to cliff, you don't want to miss it in the dark! Hut full, 12. Separate small hut for warden. Radio contact at 19:00hrs to check we are all here. Two groups in tents outside, windy and cold evening, no heating in hut, but solar lighting. Stories from warden of 2' snow drifts and 150kmph winds over New Year. Also story of Barron Hut at head of nearby valley, blown over some years ago with 4 people inside who unfortunately perished. Notice in hut saying that in the event of an earthquake, next 5-20years, this hut could disappear...???
Above Sealy Tarns
Avalanche on Mt Sefton
DAY 2...Back Down
Snow slope on the descent
Another beautiful sunny day. Up at 06:00hrs to watch sunrise. Spent some time wandering around in the snow, watching avalanches on Mt Sefton, scrambling to the nearby top of Mt Ollivier at 1917' for even better views...if that's possible. Fact: did you know that the toilet at Mueller Hut is emptied once a year by helicopter...just don't be underneath it when it takes off! Left late morning for a slow, leisurely descent taking in all the views and taking pictures as though they were going out of fashion. Aching knees by the time we reached the car.
DAY 3....Hooker Glacier ...& the Tasman Glacier
High cloud, a few sunny breaks, breezy. Only about 1.5hrs up the valley, across 2 large swing bridges over glacial river to the lake head of Hooker Glacier. Busy track, japanese coach group blocking the way. Small icebergs on lake, superb views up the valley. Sign warning people that further progress up the valley is for experienced mountaineers only, should wear a helmet. Shelter and toilets on the way. Later we also drove 8kms on a gravel road for a short 20mins walk to view the head of the Tasman Glacier, at 29kms the longest in NZ. The only disappointment with these glaciers is that unlike the Franz Josef and Cook Glacier on the west coast where you are close to snow and ice, here the glaciers have retreated too far up the valley.