Magic colours, magic shapes, magic nature
Not so easily accessible, and can be cold.
If nature is not your thing, it is nothing else to do.
Kaki (Black Stilt) are one of the world's most critically endangered birds and the world's most endangered wading bird. In 2005 there were only 55 adults left in the wild. The Mackenzie Basin - from Lake Tekapo in the north to Omarama in the south - is the heart of Kaki country. If you are lucky you can spot kaki in the wider area around Twizel:...more
Scenic Helicopter Flights start at Glentanner Park which is located between the Mt. Cook turnoff from SH8 and Mt. Cook Village, at the end of Lake Pukaki.The Helicopter Line New Zealand, Glentanner Park, SH80, Mt. CookPhone (03) 435 1801Freephone (0800) 650 651Website: www.helicopter.co.nzEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org Guided Ascents and...more
As you can imagine everybody wants to profit from tourists spending lots of money in their holiday mood. So new operators are shooting up by the day, offering new and of course absolutely exciting adventures ;-) One of these is Glacier Explorers who offer boat trips in the iceberg world of Tasman Lake. To make you believe that you get a lot of...more
Although you can see Mt. Cook towering over Hooker Valley and Hooker River perfectly from behind the second swingbridge of the Hooker Valley Walk it is well worth to make the whole trip. This takes 3 to 4 hours return.After Stocking Stream Shelter you walk on a short boardwalk through fragile and wet tussock landscape, then on a narrow path along...more
If you do not appreciate long walks you can still get a feeling of the magic of glaciers by making a five minute stroll from the White Horse Campground and Carpark to the lookout above Mueller Lake. This lookout is the second point of interest after the Alpine Memorial on the Hooker Valley Walk.It offers you a great view of the terminal face of...more
Whereas we had done the Hooker Valley Walk several times we somehow had always missed the Tasman Valley Walks. What a mistake!It is a short walk which will reward you with most spectacular views of the Tasman and its adjoining glaciers, floating icebergs in the hundreds or even thousands, and the view back to Lake Pukaki.If you are not fit at all...more
Apart from its great location in the centre of the Mackenzie Country and the kaki/black stilts breeding centre Twizel has not a lot of exciting things to offer. The town was founded in 1968 as the base for the workers who built the Lake Benmore Dam, exactly: the Upper Waitaki Power Development which was finished in 1986.It was intended to demolish...more
If you are an experienced tramper and want to have the ultimate thrill, you can try to reach the summit of NZ's highest peak. But do not underestimate it. Although Mt. Cook is only 3754m high it is a very dangerous climb as it rises from nearly sea level. Every year we hear about deadly falls, and most do happen on the climb back downhill. Best to...more
On a clear and sunny day this is nearly a must-to-do trip: the 53kms long drive on HW80 , leaving HW8, along Lake Pukaki to Mt. Cook Village. It offers such spectacular views towards Mt. Cook, New Zealand's highest peak (3754m), and its neighbouring giants of the Mt. Cook National Park, first with just the striking turquoise blue waters of the...more
This tip is not about a restaurant in the common sense, and it is not just a shop... The high-country salmon farms deliver the freshest and most fantastic salmon you can imagine. If you stay at a motel or have other good cooking facilities, buy a fillet or a whole fish and prepare it yourself. Or just have some fresh or smoked fish or sashimi directly at the farms that are situated in the Lake Tekapo/Lake Pukaki/Twizel area.
There the salmon farmers have the most pristine waters in NZ, and they do not harm the environment in any way. But they are nervous that upcoming water schemes and irrigated dairy farms - a potential killer of lakes and rivers in NZ - could not only spoil the magic landscape of the Mackenzie Country but also harm the quality of the fish and thus their businesses.
Between Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook, right on the hydro canals which are fed directly from mountain lakes, is Mt. Cook Salmon, the world's highest salmon farm, at an altitude of 677 metres. It is signposted on SH8 (left turn if you come from Twizel, right turn from Lake Tekapo). Not only the salmon is fantastic but also the views of Mt. Cook, the Southern Alps and Lake Pukaki. The farm has a large parking area and toilets. You can have a self-guided tour of the farm and also feed the fish.
I can recommend the detour even if you do not want to buy salmon. The road leads through the hinterland to Lake Pukaki where you can take a left turn back to SH8. (See photos in my Off the Beaten Path tip about the trip on the Bullock Wagon Trail.)
Another farm, named High Country Salmon, is directly on SH8, 3kms south of Twizel. It is is also a good place to have a look at the fish, feed or... eat it. Like on the other farm you can buy whole fresh fish, fillets or smoked salmon, and also get sashimi.
Favorite Dish: A whole fish prepared in the motel.
If you want to do this be sure to have salt, pepper and some fresh herbs, as well as butter or oil, white wine or milk, or however you want to prepare it. And a sharp knife!
The safest option is to buy fillets... ;-)
You can get in to Mt Cook by plane or helicopter, weather permitting of course.As well as getting in and out, you can take a scenic flight, either in a helicopter or even a skiplane to the glacier. The skiplanes sometimes land on the glacier if the weather allows.The Airport is situated right up the Mt Cook Road (Hwy 80), past the lake, by the...more
-Public transport to Mt. Cook Village is a bit tricky.Only one of the big bus companies services Mt. Cook - this is Intercity/Newmans. BUT: You can also use Kiwi Explorer, Magic Bus, etc. etc., get off at Twizel or Lake Tekapo, and from there travel to Mt. Cook Village by the local shuttle service, named Cook Connection.The Cook Connection runs...more
Mount Cook is definitely a healthy drive from Christchurch, its nearest commercial airport. Since there were four of us traveling, we opted to rent a car, which turned out to be a very good move. Mount Cook likely has some public transportation options, but the car made it very convenient for us to get in and out of the park at our own schedule,...more
One thing to be careful for when you are enjoying your trip to Mount Cook is the chance of forest/brush fire on the road between Twizel and the National Park. On our trip, we ran into a small blaze, which did not really interfere with our travel, but later in the day it came much closer to the road. On our way back out of the park, we noticed that...more
You must remember this is high altitude country here, so if you are very restricted by time and you are here in the winter, it is essential that you check both the weather and the road situation.All roads prone to blocking during winter, have these signs warning of the conditions. this one showing the high winds.Please take heed of these, they are...more
On your way up to Mount Cook National Park, you will pass by one of the most beautiful lakes in all of New Zealand, and I would hazard to guess the world. Lake Tekapo is absolutely breathtaking, especially when you look at how bright the contrast of the blue in the water is to the white on the mountain. Then surrounded by the gorgeous green trees really make for some stunning pictures. Just when we thought the view could not get any better… a rainbow pops up out of the sky and just made the whole picture that much better. Lake Tekapo is located just east of the highway between Twizel and Mount Cook National Park.
When in Mount Cook National Park, you will have the opportunity (in the right months) to enjoy one great thing about snow… snowball fights! Snowball fights are great exercise, and are not a huge risk for injury (as long as you do not add rocks to your snowball!). During one of our walks, Sarah tried to sneak up on me, but luckily I have excellent peripheral vision, and her plan was thwarted.
This is the last flowering plant to blossom in the high country, so already in autumn. Like most New Zealand flowers the gentian (Gentiana bellidifolia) has white blossoms whereas most gentians worldwide are blue or purplish blue. Like the Mt. Cook Lilies and Daisies they grow in the tussock herbfields which are dominated by snow grasses and...more
Get too close to this strikingly yellow blooming plant and you know where its name comes from ;-) It is an Aciphylla species (Aciphylla aurea), a common spear grass, flowering from November until the end of December. Wherever you walk in the Mt. Cook Village area, be it the Hooker Valley Walk or the Tasman Lake walks, those spectacular plants are...more
Also known as mountain daisy or Celmisia verbascifolia (in an old encyclopedia I found the name Celmisia petiolata), this is the world’s largest daisy. The petals are white and the centre yellow. The leaves are greyish with a velvety look and feel, and dot the slopes of the mountains long after the flowers have faded.more