Alps to Ocean, Day 1 – Christchurch to Mt Cook – Mackenzie Basin, South Island, New Zealand

The alarm went off at 4.30am so I could make my 6.40am flight to Christchurch.  I encountered a bit of fog on my drive from Havelock North to Napier airport but the airport area was clear so I thought there would be no delays from my end.  I checked in with plenty of time to spare and then found out the flight was delayed due to fog in Christchurch.  The rest of the cycle group were coming from Auckland and they were also delayed due to the fog in Christchurch.  In the end we were all only about half an hour behind schedule.

Ian our tour driver collected us from the airport, we then collected Margaret, Graeme, Trish and Rae from the hotel and regrouped at Natural High’s headquarters.  The bikes were loaded already so once the bags and food were loaded we were off.

Morning tea or actually breakfast for some of the group was at Geraldine.  It was a nice day so we were getting some good vistas as we made our way towards Mt Cook.  We had a quick stop in Tekapo before heading out to the canals for lunch and a warm up cycle of 15km.  It was blowing a gale so we made hard work of the 15km.  Some of the group had gone ahead and stayed on the high road along the canal while the rest of us took a lower road which provided a bit of shelter.  On coming back up to the high road we were met by Trish who was walking her bike – she had been blown off and her bike had ended up on top of her!  The scenery was lovely though and we had some nice views of Mt Cook.  We also saw some salmon farms along the canal.  Some of the salmon were being fed so they were jumping out of the water.  The downhill at the end of the canal was certainly fun : )     

We then drove about an hour to our accomodation for the night at Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Lodge.  It was a team effort cooking dinner.  In saying that my contribution was pretty minimal as I had a little snooze and by the time I got to the kitchen everything was under control.  Dinner and dessert which was a deconstructed banoffee pie was very nice.

After dinner we went up to The Hermitage which is a hotel that has various exhibitions etc… in relation to Aoraki Mt Cook and mountaineering in general.  We were booked in to do star gazing at 9.30pm – unfortunately there was a bit of cloud which meant it was not possible.  We spent half an hour in the Planetarium learning about the planets and the solar system instead.  It was very interesting but also a bit too relaxing sending some of the team to sleep after their 4.30am starts : )

Aoraki / Mount Cook

Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Until 2014, its height was officially listed as 3,754 metres, but new measurements have given a revised height of 3,724 metres (12,218 ft).[1] It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. A popular tourist destination,[2] it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits lying slightly south and east of the main divide, the Low Peak, Middle Peak and High Peak, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the west.

The mountain is in the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, in the Canterbury region, which was established in 1953 and along with Westland National ParkMount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park forms one of the UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites. The park contains more than 140 peaks standing over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) and 72 named glaciers, which cover 40 percent of the park’s 700 square kilometres (170,000 acres).

The settlement of Mount Cook Village is a tourist centre and base camp for the mountain. It is 7 km from the end of the Tasman Glacier and 12 km south of Aoraki / Mount Cook’s summit. 


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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