We slept for ages - guys finally found some beer with alcohol inside and managed to drink the whole box of them. Which took some time and even longer before they were able to exist. Never mind, it rained again.
Because of the rain we didn't went back to Moeraki Boulders as the photos would be the same. Instead we went to Ranfurly, where old railway meets the road and it is a stop on Railtrail. Few years ago they dismatled the railway and built nice track there for walking or biking. It goes through nice land with a lot of views and looks like really good way how to spend a few days. But we didn't have the time nor the urge to bike there, as rainfall was still quite strong. After lunch we decided to move roughly in the middle of the track, where should be some nice bridge and tunnels. On second try we found Auripo, the place we wanted to, and start out our short journey.
The bridge was really nice, one of the highest on the track, and the tunnels were pretty long, in one of them we went in complete dark (as we left headlights in a car). There were several information tables and it was huge effort to make this railway.
Next stop was Mt Cook Village - a few hours drive away. We came in the evening, with strong rain and found the camp quite full. Had a dinner and long sleep (again). The other day was the weather the same - just rain. We took a walk around Hooker river to see how does it look like and if is it possible to run it and then went to Hermitage hotel, where they have an open fire (awesome idea, I was dry again in a while) and Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. In it is a museum, planetarium and 3D theatre with really nice movie about surrounding mountains and glaciers. We were really blow away by it, fantastic pictures, music, settings - you just want to be there as well. Museum is nice as well as there is a lot of Edmund's stuff and information about him, as he is one of the most famous New Zealanders and he lived in Mt Cook for a while during his preparation for Antarctic expedition or Mt Everest climbing.
In the evening the weather started to be a bit better, we could even see some hills around and not just feel them as till now.
Monday, another day in this beutiful place. Originally we planned just one day here, but there is just too much to see and do that we decided to stay for a while and really enjoy it here. The weather is pretty good but still not perfect, some drizzling and weather forecast told us tomorrow would be even better.
Guys decided to do the Hooker river - it should be fun, another glacier river and this time they can get on on a lake. Awesome. Got some strange looks from tourist around as we carry our boats there, the water is a bit lower than yesterday but never mind. Get on and lets go.
The end was pretty quick - first bigger wave took them and in a while Tomas was up side down and Vlada swimming. Tomas did an eskimo roll and went to catch Vlada's boat but missed his paddle. So, we had a boat and went to find the paddle. Long walk and even longer one in the afternoon, but the paddle is no where. Shame.
As we were driving around we also stopped at the Tasman Lake, which is at the end of Tasman Glacier and we would be here tomorrow cruising on boat between icebergs. There are Blue lakes on the way to Glacier lookout and they are pretty nice; however, I don't understand why they are called "blue".
The lake looks pretty ordinary, nothing exciting, some flowing icebergs there - should we really go cruising tomorrow?
Anyway, back in the village doing pancakes for a dinner. It was funny, after third pancake the cooker just run out of gas. Luckily there is an YHA hostel in the city, so we went there and asked if it is possible to finish our dinner there. No problem, welcome aboard. There was a French girl, who was shocked that someone has pancakes for a dinner and asked us if we'll be doing them in the morning as well. No way. And after dinner it was time for stargazing, organized in Hermitage as well. They have three telescopes there and showed us a lot including tonnes of interesting information - I should go in for it. Saturn looks incredible with its moons. It was just funny that Lee, who lead it, had to adjust the positions of telescopes frequently - they forgot to charge the batteries.
Last day here and it is time to go on the lake. On the way there we got some information:
- the glacier is about 14 000 years old
- it takes around 300 years for the snow on top to get to the bottom (so they expect some climbers to appear in the ice in about 100 years)
- the lake is quite deep - I think about 300meters
- just 10% of iceberg is visible above surface
- it looks like there is no river under the lake, the reason is that the river is under the surface in about 200m depth, as the surface is made of rocks
- 3 colors of ice exist - black one (the oldest ice), white (normal ice) and blue (completely new ice - it was in the middle of iceberg and this one is rare and disappear quickly)
We ate some ice and the other boats even have some spirits with them to try with old ice. The reflection in ice is awesome and it is really interesting to do it. I'm a bit surprised that we were probably the first Czechs on board.
Also asked what means Aoraki in the national park name (official name is Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park). And it means clouds piercer, which is absolutly true.
In the afternoon we decided to go to Muller Hut - it takes about 4 hours to get to the top and 2,5-3 to get down again. So it is perfect trip for the afternoon, with high steps and pretty steep climbs but with awesome views around, which were really nice as the weather was just perfect.
You can also find out why old legends think that Mt Cook is some Maories god turned into stone. The eyes, nose and beard are just nicly visible.
The view is probably better from the last saddle under the hut, because from the hut you see mostly rocks around. But it must be awesome to see the sunset and sunrise from here, we really regreted not to stay here.
Back down it was quite quick and it is funny that the track is separated into three completely different legs - first one is nice with wood steps, the second one is over stony surface and the last one is more about easy climbing over small rocks. All of them nice and demanding.