Aoraki or Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock which offers great alpine crossing and walking options providing views of Mount Cook and the surrounding alpine bush. There’s several walks to choose from – we opted for the Kea Point Track, part of the Hooker Valley Track and Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier view.
Unfortunately we couldn’t finish the Hooker Valley Track, as the combination of the intense wind and rain made it pretty unpleasant to continue. We did get amazing views of Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier lake and Mount Cook though. We spent about 2 hours on the track up and down.
When we started Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier view, the weather had turned, which made the 40 min return track a walk in the park. This short tour provides incredible views of lower Tasman Glacier and icebergs. The Blue Lakes’ colour has shifted, so now they actually look greenish, so don’t be puzzled if you don’t see any actual blue waters.
Getting to the track requires a little bit of searching, as it starts from Rees Valley Road (a gravel road), about 30 minutes from Glenorchy.
The track is part of the Otago Goldfields Park and built by miners. The sight of the remains of the water wheel and seven berdans (iron bowls) surrounded by the incredible landscape is quite unique.
The lookout on Rees Valley gave us a real Lord Of The Rings vibe.
It took us a little bit more than an hour to get up (uphill) and a less than an hour to get back down, including photo stops.
There’s a lot of different possibilities to explore Fox Glacier. We choose for the Fly In – Fox Glacier Heli Hike, which combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the amazing views from the helicopter flight.
Before getting into the helicopter and onto the Glacier, we got special equipment, getting us ready for the hike. Flying into the Glacier is amazing. We were lucky with the weather. Only a few days earlier we heard from another Belgian couple they had to cancel the trip because of bad weather. When we started that morning we even had sunshine.
Once getting on the landing site and getting out of the helicopter we got further briefed on how to walk on the ice with crampons. Then it was time to start. We followed the steps set out by our guide, to keep it safe. Although it was quite cold (we’re walking on ice, right?), we got warm pretty quickly.
We saw the Victoria Falls, made our way through an “ice cave” and of course got plenty of opportunities to take awesome pictures. We finished the 3 hour walk on the ice with some pretty heavy rock falling. Great morning!
The Pancake Rocks can be viewed from the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk, which is only a 1km loop located at Dolomite Point, near Punakaiki, located on the SH6.
It’s pretty obvious why they are called Pancake Rocks… The blowholes are at their best around high tide. At the time we visited, unfortunately the sun was missing, but you get the idea.
One of the reasons why we love New Zealand so much is the difference the landscape can bring from one day to another. The scenery of Abel Tasman is somewhat the opposite from the one of Doubtful Sound. As is the weather…
Abel Tasman is really tropical. It’s renowned for its golden beaches and sculptured granite cliffs.
We spent 2 days in the park. On the first day we did the world famous Coastal Walk. The full track takes about 3 to 5 days. We only did part of it, starting from Torrent Bay to Marahau. A water taxi dropped us off . This 12 km part of the track took us about 5,5 hours, including stops. We were lucky to be able to cross Torrent Bay estuary during low tide, as otherwise we had to take the all-tide track around it.
The second day we embarked on a full day sea kayak tour (Magical Marine Reserve), enabling us to soak up the beauty of the place from the water together with 3 other couples. We started by water taxi to Onetahuti, paddled through the Tonga Island Marine Reserve and then into Anchorage via lagoons. Finally, the water taxi brought us back to Marahau. At Tonga Island, we even spotted a cute little penguin.
The second day we embarked on a full day sea kayak tour (Magical Marine Reserve), enabling us to soak up the beauty of the place from the water together with 3 other couples. We started by water taxi to Onetahuti, paddled through the Tonga Island Marine Reserve and then into Anchorage via lagoons. Finally, the water taxi brought us back to Marahau.
At Tonga Island, we even spotted a cute little penguin.
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park
As I referred to in my earlier post "My top 5 reasons to go Down Under", the kayaking trip in Doubtful Sound was an unforgettable experience. What made it so unique? Let's see - it was cold and wet… The water entering the kayak (despite the "skirts" we had on)...
The Queen Charlotte Track is renowned for its stunning views and contrasting landscape – it’s a unique and spectacular trip through the Marlborough Sounds. It was our last trip on the Southern Island and we ended with a bang!
Other Countries we visited
Have a look at the other countries we ‘achievied’ to visit, and other Achievies…