We scheduled our departure for 8:00 am and were on the road a few minutes after that. Majella and I had wakened and rolled over to snooze. We were finally roused by my phone alarm at 7:00 am. That left us time for showers and a relaxed breakfast before bundling bags into the car. When Majella collected keys for return we were missing one of the three. That required a couple of minutes wait until the office opened at 8:00 am to sort out the $10 charge. Then we were back on the road.
The clouds that had rolled in yesterday were still around so it was a grey morning. We hoped they might clear by the time we reached Aoraki Mt Cook.
Our path was through Frankton and along the Kuwarau River gorge road. Along the way we refuelled and then stopped at the A J Hackett Bungy Centre on the old bridge. The opening time was 9:00 am so when we arrived soon after 8:30 am there was no action. We were able to walk down onto the bridge for photos of the river and installation but no more. I was reminded that, had we followed the original plan proposed by our tour guide, we would have had more chance of seeing jumpers.
We paused again at Roaring Meg for photos of the Kuwarau River pouring through the gorge. At the end of the gorge road we passed through Cromwell. We had seen a few signs for fruit sales as we neared the end of town and and stopped at a juice and cider making establishment to buy some fruit as we drove out the far side of town toward the Lindis Pass road.
As we drove up the valley we stopped once to look more closely at the low yellow flowering plant that covered the hillsides. We assumed it was another variety of the yellow broom we had seen covering hillsides elsewhere on our travels. Further along the broom disappeared from the hills and the roadsides and flats by the stream were covered in lupins. We stopped for photos of those too before climbing the range to the summit through the tussock covered hills.
We had always intended stopping at the summit lookout but as we approached it we encountered an escort vehicle for a house being trailered up the other side of the pass. The summit car park was a convenient spot to wait for it to pass while taking more photos.
As we headed down the other side toward Omarama the lupins reappeared. We paused along the river valley where people had been building cairns and shapes, mostly letters and names, from the many small rocks that lay about on the ground. Majella had been harbouring an urge to do it since we had happened across the area on our trip with Pat and Laura Ryan. She had her way.
By this time we were seeing occasional flashes of blue sky ahead and were hopeful that conditions might be at least fair for mountain peak spotting. We stopped at Omarama for coffee and snacks. There was a store next to our coffee stop and some brief shopping followed before we headed north again.
We passed by our accommodation at Twizel and drove the extra 63 km to Aoraki Mt Cook. Not far beyond the start of the drive up Lake Pukaki we stopped at Peter’s Lookout to see what we could of the mountains. We could see snow clad mountains but the tops were hidden by clouds with a few patches of blue sky to give us hope that it might clear.
We drove on to the Mt Cook village. There we took a quick look at the Edmund Hillary Centre and spent some time in the information centre. About that time the clouds lifted and we were able to see the peaks. Helen was especially pleased because she had been there twice before many years ago but both times it had rained and she was unable to see the peaks. We enjoyed lunch and the magnificent view outside at the Old Mountaineers Cafe.
After lunch we drove to the Tasman Glacier viewing area. Glen, John, and I walked to the top of the hill to see the glacier and its lake. Helen came part way up and went for a look at the ‘blue’ lakes which were actually brown. Majella, Debbie and Mum waited below for the 30 minutes it took us to get up, take some photos, and get back.
By then, though there was sun on the mountains near us we could see rain falling down the valley. We drove back to Twizel to check in at our accommodation through some light showers with the mountains disappearing into the mist behind us.
Check in was quick and easy. We dropped our bags and headed for the High Country Salmon, just south of Twizel. We spent a few minutes feeding the salmon and then bought some to cook for dinner. On the way back through Twizel we picked up some salad ingredients and beverages to go with the meal.
Mains for dinner was pan fried salmon accompanied by wedges roasted in the oven, salad, and garlic pita bread. That was followed by cheese with some fresh raspberries and strawberries we had picked up this morning. It was all washed down with New Zealand wine.
By 6:30 pm we had finished dinner and relaxed with conversation. Majella had concocted a series of awards for various activities rewarded with Cadbury chocolates. The travellers presented her with a CD of sounds of New Zealand in appreciation of her efforts as tour guide.