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New Zealand SI (Part 2): Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook

After the hot air balloon, we're going to leave Canterbury and continued our journey to Lake Tekapo (according to Google maps 2.5 hours drive). However, the time required to reach a destination in NZ usually took longer than what was stated in Google maps as there're many scenic lookout points to stop and take pictures along the way.

Along the way to Lake Tekapo
Panorama view of Lake Tekapo
Panoramic View from Mount John 

We decided to drive up to Mount John to have a panoramic view of Lake Tekapo and Lake Alexandrina first before checking in to our holiday home. It took us about 30mins to drive from Lake Tekapo to the summit of Mount John. Note that there's a $5 fee for road access payable at the base of Mount John and the road up Mount John closes at 6pm. Hence, if you are planning to drive up Mount John to see stars in the night skies, you will have to sign up for the star gazing tour by Earth and Sky.

View from Mount John

Observatory on Mount John
Astro Cafe is located on Mount John. It's great sipping a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while admiring the great views. Don't pin high hopes on the food. They serve decent sandwiches and cakes, but that's about it.

Astro Cafe

Hot chocolate - Astro Cafe

We then drove down Mount John and went back to Lake Tekapo. Lupins started growing along Lake Tekapo.

Beautiful turquoise color of Lake Tekapo 

Playing waters of Lake Tekapo. The water was so cold!
We checked in to our holiday home at Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes office.

Our cosy holiday home ensuite with fully equipped kitchen
Home cooked steak in our Holiday Home!
At night, we tried capturing some stars in the clear skies.

The next day, we drove along Lake Pukaki. Lake Pukaki was around 30 minutes drive from Lake Tekapo. The turquoise color of Lake Pukaki was more beautiful and stunning than Lake Tekapo! I super love Lake Pukaki!

We walked down to the lakeside of Lake Pukaki and took a close up view of the turquoise waters!

While driving along Lake Pukaki, we stopped by Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre. There's a Mount Cook Alpine Salmon shop here.

And so, we bought some salmon sashimi and ate by Lake Pukaki, admire the beautiful turquoise waters. The sashimi was so fresh and yummy!

After driving past Lake Pukaki, another 30 minutes drive brought us to Mount Cook area. We did 2 walks here. The Blue Lake and Tasman Glacier View walk and the Hooker Valley Track. You can find more walks in the Aoraki Mount Cook village walking tracks website.

Blue Lake and Tasman Glacier View walk
Time required: 45 minutes return
Difficulty: Easy with steps to climb
Height gain: 100m
Start point: Blue lake carpark (Along the road to Mount Cook village, there's a sign "Tasman", turn into the road and drive for another 5 mins to reach the carpark)

Blue Lake Carpark

Starting of the walk
After about 10 mins of walking. We've reached the blue lake. Errr... we were quite disappointed with the blue lake because it was not blue at all. There's a sign explaining why the blue lake was not blue anymore. Due to global warming, the Tasman Glacier has retreated so much that the glacier water could not reach the Blue Lake anymore. Hence, the blue lake is now being fed by rainwater instead of glacier water. That's sad :(
Blue Lake that's not blue
Continuing the walk, there're lots of stairs to climb. Endure and you will be rewarded with the beautiful view of Tasman Glacier Lake.

Tasman Glacier has retreated so much that it's no longer visible from here. All we could see is only the Glacier Lake with some ice bergs in the lake. Nonetheless, the view is still pretty.

Hooker Valley Track
Time required: 3 hours return from carpark
Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat grounds with some slopes
Height gain: 80m over 5km
Start point: White Horse Hill campground and car park (drive past Mount Cook village and continue on the road to the carpark)

Starting point of Hooker Valley Track
The weather started to turn cloudy and rained as we began our Hooker Valley Track :( This made our journey difficult. It was cold at 6 degrees, and we had to endure the rain hitting on us and the super strong winds that blew throughout the 3 hours track. It's important to have waterproof and windproof jacket with hoodie. I think we would have gave up this track if we're not prepared with the jacket.

There were 3 bridges to cross for the track, it seems like one bridge marked one quarter of track completed. The views were great! Imagine walking in the mountains! The end point of Hooker Valley Track is the view of the Hooker Glacier and the glacier lake. We were a bit disappointed with the glacier lake though, as the icebergs on the glacier lake were quite dirty.

Grey skies :( Could not get a clear picture of the skyline and the mountains

The first bridge

The second bridge

Half way through Hooker Valley Track

Finally reached the end point of Hooker Valley Track!

The white patch of snow on the mountain is Hooker Glacier
Walking back...
The Hooker Valley Track is quite an easy walk with superb views surrounding, if not for the weather. It's no doubt that this is one of the most popular walk in Mount Cook region. Even though at the end point, I'm a bit disappointed with the dirty icebergs on the glacier lake, I would still highly recommend this walk as the views are really great and I love the feeling of walking in the mountains! Choose a day with good weather and you will be able to enjoy the mountains and scenery with leisure. Click to check out the weather conditions for Hooker Valley Track beforehand!

After another night stay at Lake Tekapo, we said bye bye to Lake Tekapo and proceeded to Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound! Stay tune for Part 3!


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