To be found in the Mackenzie Region, Mount Cook is the most iconic mountain in New Zealand, with 3,724 metres the tallest in the country and surrounded by 30 equally fantastic mountains, all above 3,000 metres. On our way to our Mount Cook hike we received the good news, that we could squeeze in a helicopter flight. It was without question that I would do that – after having missed out at Fox Glacier! And there we were, in Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park, at the bottom of the mountains and glacier, waiting to hop on our helicopter (six of us went). This was my first flight and I was rather excited about it, and wow – it was fantastic. Free like a bird! We went up to the glacier, landed on the top section of it, careful not to step into any hidden crevasses and waterways. Amazing experience, I could’ve stayed up there in the helicopter for a few hours, but that would’ve crashed my credit card. I also loved that we all had our own headphones and mics, made us look very professional. Ha ha!
Once we touched back on ground we rushed to our motel in Mount Cook village, eager to set off for our hike up to the bottom of the glacier. What a sight! The mighty Mount Cook, with a glacial lake at its foot! Just amazing! Unfortunately the trail was rather busy, mostly full of Chinese tourists who were not fitted out to hike up a mountain (who thinks wearing flip flops on a hike is a good idea?!). But never mind the busy trail, the view at the end of it is well worth it! The lake, ice rocks in the water, Mount Cook behind it, surrounded by glaciers and most impressive mountains. There are no words. Wow!
It was also Christmas Eve. That’s when I celebrate Christmas and would usually spend the day with my nieces and nephew, decorating the tree, preparing the dinner, wrapping presents and witnessing the chaos when the children can finally open the boxes underneath the Christmas tree. And I must admit, I had a few moments when I felt a bang of sadness, just before dinner I had to step out to compose myself. I really would have wished that I could have celebrated this Christmas with someone I love and who loves me. Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying my trip, but it is just not the same. We had dinner in the mountain hut and ended the evening with a few bottles of the wine we bought during our winery tour in Queensland. Everyone joined in and ‘sponsored’ a bottle, we had a good laugh and hugs all around.
Today is Christmas Day. Our guides got up early and prepared a breakfast feast for us, with pancakes, French toast and all sorts of other delicate treats, including some champagne to start the day in style. We even had Christmas crackers, so we sat around our tables enjoying this special treat with paper crowns on our heads :-). I received a Christmas card from one of the lovely couples in the group, and another small present (some nougat) from another couple. They are all such sweethearts!
As opposed to my family. 😦 All of them received Christmas cards from me, I posted them before I left. I have not even received a text. That upsets me more than anything. Just shows that it was the right decision for me to travel at this time of the year instead of going home. It makes me incredibly sad though.