I was fired up upon leaving for this trip. I was in prime physical shape from a summer of trail running and ultra-marathon training, as well as always having the skifluenza bug. I drove down to Park City to meet up with Andrew McLean. After some final gear organizing and final tweaks to my new CF Whippets, Polly drove us to the airport to catch our first flight. We met up with Chris Figenshau in LAX and my Ambien supply proved valuable on the long flight to New Zealand. I started to really buzz when I saw the first snow on the last leg into Christchurch! Grant Guise picked us up right on time and we quickly made our way to the New Zealand Alpine Club headquarters to become members so we could receive a discount on hut fees throughout the ranges. We were then introduced to the famous NZ meat pie, which we quickly became fascinated with.
After a morning of food shopping, organizing and wondering how all our gear is going to fit into Grant’s Subaru, we quickly hit the road and raced towards Mt Cook (Aoraki) Village. We couldn’t pass up a trip to Grant’s grandmother and we were just in time for a cup a tea and some fresh scones…yum! We quickly noticed how prevalent the sheep are around here. They would be seen everywhere but the most urban areas and the snowy mountains and glaciers. Lake Tekapo’s glacial fed green waters prove to be a stunning foreground to our first real view of Mt Cook. These views are even to great for the sheep dogs to pass up.
The sheep fallowed us all the way to Mt Cook Village, the huge views up the Hooker Valley and visit from Sir Edmond Hillary himself, one of every mountaineer’s heroes. The Department of Conservation entertained us with its landslide display, maps and videos and the Unwin Lodge served its purposes, especially at $10NZ a day. The views were most valuable as we spent about a week waiting for the golden hour for the ski-plane or helicopter to fly us into one of the mountain shelters with our large supply of gear and food for two weeks. The rental/touring van paintjobs were especially colorful (to say the least) but seems like a great way to travel and see the country.
More to come!