Thursday, December 20, 2013
I wish I could bottle up the serenity of the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. I came here to relax for a few days before heading back to Queenstown to meet up with some friends for Christmas and New Year’s. The village is tiny as I expected. The “groceries” are few and expensive, so if you plan on visiting, definitely try to stop by Twizel to grocery shop first. I am staying at the Mount Cook Backpacker Lodge and it is a much larger hostel than the others I have visited, but I booked for the views and am not disappointed. My room has a balcony overlooking the valley and a direct shot of Mount Sefton with Mount Cook leering to the right.
The weather yesterday and today has been completely flawless. The sun’s rays are completely consuming and make me feel as if the world is at ease like I now feel with myself. With such striking days, it could make anyone believe that heartache is a thing of the past and the promise of tomorrow will last forever. It’s a kind of mood that makes me feel happy, but not an exuberant kind of emotion, more of a placid kind of peaceful. In this moment, everything is perfect.
I hiked through the valley past fields of wildflowers down the Kea Point to reach the base of Mount Sefton and the Mueller Glacier. I met a very nice Englishman there who suggested I continue my journey through the Hooker Valley, and the sights were incredible. I crossed a few suspension bridges to finally arrive at Terminal Lake at the foot of Mount Cook. I don’t know why I was surprised to find small icebergs floating in the water, but it only makes sense since I had just passed glaciers and snow capped mountains.
At 3,754 meters or 12,316 feet, Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and Sir Edmund Hillary used this mountain in training to later become the first person to ever summit Mount Everest. The Kiwis are incredibly proud of his ascent and Hillary is regarded as the greatest New Zealander of all time, so much that he is on the $5 note. It’s pretty refreshing to be in a country where a citizen’s success is not measured by political achievements, but rather personal triumphs that represent the rest of the country.