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Heading Back to the Mountains

Tuesday 17th November 2015

sunny 18 °C

After our overnight stop in Oamaru it was time for us to set off to Mount Cook Village for a couple of nights. I had high hopes for this leg of the trip, back into the mountains and hopefully some great views. However I have learnt from experience that mountains can so easily remain hidden in mist and low cloud and so I was trying to manage my expectations. We also had been prewarned about the lack of shops in the village and so we stocked up with food and petrol before we left town. Once we were properly on our way we drove the short distance up the coastal State Highway 1 before turning inland in a northwesterly direction. The places we passed through had a mixture of English (Georgetown), Scottish (Peebles, Duntroon, Aviemore) and Maori (Awamoko, Waikaura, Hakataramea) names.

The first place we actually stopped was Takiroa which is the site of some Maori rock art. It was a little disappointing in that some had got lost over the years due to rock falls and the majority of the rest had been removed and taken to museums for preservation. There was a small amount that could be seen including a painting of some men in a boat.

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The theory was that this was of European settlers arriving rather than the Polynesians in their waka. The road continued along the valley floor near, but not near enough to see the braided river that carried the glacial and rainwater out to sea. Our map showed some more historical sights on the far side of Lake Aviemore and so we decided to take a short detour off the main road. Their were lots of camping places, probably more suited to Kiwi anglers than tourists. The side road then carried up towards the manmade Lake Benmore and across the hydroelectric dam both of which were constructed in the 1960's.

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We stopped here briefly to have a look at both, before continuing back onto the main road. We never did find the features we had been looking for originally, but it ad been worth taking the detour nevertheless. Shortly after this the road divided and we turned right to make our way past the small town of Twizel and towards Lake Pukaki. As soon as we approached the lake we were stunned by its brilliant turquoise colour which was so bright it almost looked as though it's colour was artificially made. The road ran alongside the lake for most of the rest of the journey and combined with the mountains in the distance made the route very scenic.

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We stopped once to take some photographs and apart from that I made do with taking them from the moving car. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Mount Cook Village. Apart from the quite large Hermitage Hotel all the other buildings in the village snuggle into the valley and are pretty unobtrusive. When we checked in to our motel we were really pleased as not only was it very nice but we had brilliant views of the mountains.

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As an added bonus although there were a few clouds the visibility was pretty good. After settling in we walked up to the visitor centre and got a map describing the walk that we intended to do tomorrow. From there were could see the top of Mount Cook which was obscured by a closer hill when we were in room.

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We then went to a nearby cafe which overlooked the mountain and had a cup of tea before walking back to our room where we spent the rest of the evening watching the light change and the set behind the mountains.

Posted by Gill's Travels 13:10 Archived in New Zealand

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