New Zealand,  Oceania,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Mount Cook (New Zealand): salmon and snowy peaks

We leave Akaroa directly after the excursion to see the dolphins

As the trip to Mount Cook is very long (more than 400km), we choose to stop at Tekapo Lake, 1 hour from Mount Cook, to sleep

Lunch is next to a lake seen on the way. Some ducks and vans keep us company. We aren’t very difficult for lunch. In general, a few slices of pan toasted bread and a good omelette are more than enough. If we have a little more time, I also prepare a salad. Dirty dishes are put in a plastic bag to be washed in a campsite in the evening

Lake Tekapo is very large and sublime. The best view is probably from the city center, where you can see snowy peaks in the distance

Campsite in Tekapo

We choose to stay for the first time in a campsite without a shower, with only dry toilets as equipment (it looks like a normal toilet but underneath it is a big hole), a sink where we have to pump by hand to get water from the lake. All this for 13$NZ/person, payable in honesty box. So how does this honesty box payment work for camping? There is a metal box containing envelopes at the entrance of the campsite, with a pen. You fill in the information requested on the envelope (name, license plate, number of people) and put the money inside. Then the envelope is put into a metal tube next to it. That’s it! If you sleep on the spot without paying, there is a big risk that a ranger will come to wake you up at 6 am and give you a big fine. We have heard French people complaining about being woken up, they had not paid considering that a simple land with nothing should be free. No comment..

This campsite belongs to the DOC (department of conservation) which manages about a hundred campsites, often very well located, for the most part expensive. But most of them operate on a “first come, first served” basis and the best camps (view, location) are quickly taken by storm in summer

At one point, JB goes to the toilet, and when he comes back, about fifty insects have already taken up residence in our van, around the ceiling lamp. The horror! One would think oneself in the film The Birds of Hitchcock. He turns off the light, ventilates the van, but the insects do not leave. So we spend 20 minutes, locked in the car, killing them, one by one. A real genocide! Fortunately for us, it isn’t the famous sand flies whose bites are worse than those of mosquitoes. We are entitled to just two kinds of insects, of which one looks like mosquitoes (but does not bite), and the other one like moths

The next day, we look out the window and see a cloud of insects flying next to our car. We flee at once towards Mount John, 4km from there (5$NZ per car). Unfortunately, the cloudy weather prevents us from having a beautiful sight on the lake Tekapo. But the presence of some rabbits enchants us

Pukaki Lake

We leave towards Mount Cook, with a big stop at Pukaki Lake which enchants us even more than Tekapo Lake. It is so big that we take 30 minutes to pass from one end to the other. Moreover, in the tourist office of the lake Pukaki, they sell sashimi of salmon (of farmed) at a so derisory price that we bought 500g! Since this tourist office, we have a global view on the lake and the Mount Cook, but it rains thus we will see the turquoise color of the lake (and the Mount Cook) only the following day

While waiting for the weather to clear up, we spend time at the Public Shelter in the center of Mount Cook Village, taking a nice hot shower (for NZ$2) and enjoying our sashimi bought earlier

JB takes the opportunity to make a mini trek of 30 minutes starting from the public shelter

Tasman Glacier Lake

The weather is nice again, we take the road to Tasman Valley and do the famous walk to Tasman Glacier Lake. 15 minutes walk (easy) and we are in front of a huge lake (24km long), on which float some huge glaciers (but very small seen from far). This lake is fed by the glaciers, and because of the global warming, is decreasing by about 50 centimeters each year

Last walk since our camp-site, the famous Halley Track (a must!) which is supposed to last 3 hours round trip, we will make only the 1st part, since it is already late, but the little that we saw encourages us to make the complete trek the next day


The next day, it rains ropes, you can’t even see the nearest peaks. At only 1.5km from there, the sun is shining brightly. What capricious weather! We leave Mount Cook with regrets, direction Moeraki Boulders and Dunadin


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