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10 March 2016 @ 07:44 pm
All of these words whispered in my ear tell a story that I cannot bear to hear...  
After such a beautiful sunny welcome to Mount Cook, it was quite a shock to wake up to the pounding rain and heavy fog which had descended upon our formerly stunning vista; the mist was so heavy, it completely shielded the mountain view.

We had experienced such beautiful weather for our whole time in New Zealand (save for the dreary drive to Queenstown) that I didn't even ponder the possibility of rain hampering the day of walks I had planned for Thursday. We both expected rain in Milford Sound and, when we didn't get it, we foolishly assumed we wouldn't have to worry about bad weather for the rest of our trip.

Thursday was the most outdoorsy day of the trip, with three walking tracks in the Mount Cook region planned. I had wanted to complete:

- Hooker Valley Track, 3 hours (apart from Milford Sound, this was probably the thing I was most looking forward to)
- Kea Walk, 1 hour
- Tasman Glacier Hike, 30 minutes

As we got ready and packed up the car, I hoped that the wind would blow the storm away as quickly as it had brought it in. But, after check-out, we sat in the car and I realised there was no way we could do the walks in this weather. Our next hotel was in Lake Tekapo and it would be absurd to attempt the lengthier walks without wet weather gear and risk a damp trip east.

We drove out of the national park via the car park to shortest walk (the glacier trek), hoping the rain might hold off for just long enough to let us do the climb and return. It seemed to pour down even harder. Defeated, I asked Nomi to drive us to our next destination:

Her: "Are you sure? Will I get halfway down the road before you decide to do it in the rain?"
Me: "No. It's ridiculous. It's too wet. We should go."
Her: *drives out the car park and down the road*
A rainbow appears on the side of the road and she pulls over so we can take some photos.

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The rain turns to spitting. Without a word, she does a u-turn and heads back to the carpark.
Her: "We'll put our coats on and run up the track, take some photos, then run back down."

THIS is a perfect example of why we're best friends and why we travel so well together. She knew I was disappointed about not getting to do the other walks but this was one small win we could salvage from the morning. And it was absolutely worth it. The hike was steep but rewarding with the view behind us just as spectacular as the things we were expecting to see at the peak:

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And when we got to the top, we were awestruck. Dark, looming mountains, shrouded in mist, were the backdrop for an expansive lake that had icebergs floating in it! During winter, the lake freezes over, then as the months get warmer, the ice breaks up and floats around the lake. Just incredible to witness:



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Someone was looking down on us because the rain had virtually stopped by the time we started the climb and didn't start again until we had reached the bottom. As soon as we got back in the car, the heavens opened up and we had a very wet drive out of Mount Cook. Even despite the wet weather, Lake Pukaki looked absolutely stunning:

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As we rounded the lake, the winds picked up (we later found out they reached speeds of 160km/h) but at least the sun started shining. We made a pit-stop by one of the salmon farms and enjoyed a morning tea of New Zealand ice-cream (salted caramel and chocolate) accompanied by the most delicious and fresh sashimi I have ever tried. Incredible!

From there, it was on to Lake Tekapo (though I'm sure we spent more time stopping around Lake Pukaki for photo after photo after photo than actually driving). The blue of the water combined with the trees lining the lake, combined with the mountains in the distance made for a spectacular view.

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We arrived in Lake Tekapo earlier than any of our other destination towns and were excited to check the place out and enjoy a spot of lunch. Unfortunately the place we chose to eat was really disappointing food-wise and the massive winds meant we couldn't access the lookout or go kayaking or really do any of the options we'd mapped out.

Instead, we checked into our apartment for the night, right across the the road from the lake, and walked down to take photos and explore at our own leisure. I even found some lupins to photograph against the blue of the lake! (I'd become obsessed with lupins while researching Lake Tekapo and was super bummed we'd miss their limited blossoming season of November/December so was ecstatic to find some hadn't yet expired.)



Our early arrival was a little dull as we had more time than things to do so we settled with repacking, organising souvenirs and trivia prizes*, making our own dinner, enjoying the sunset and ever-changing lake in the afternoon/evening colours, deleting/editing/culling/queuing/posting photos, and enjoying our latest acquisition of New Zealand sparkling wine:

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*It has become somewhat of a tradition to play trivia when we travel. It started with vlogs on Route 66 three years ago (because that seemed like a far more fun way to share facts and plot our journey than just photos) and has continued on at Comic-Con, Las Vegas, San Fran, and Disneyland. For some reason, it's only when we go to the States; Fiji, Tonga, Tasmania, Uluru, the Gold Coast, and the Great Ocean Road all missed out.
 
 
Current Location: New Zealand, Lake Tekapo
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Current Music: Adele - Rumour Has It