June 16, 2018

HIKING AROUND HOOKER VALLEY

This is one of the numerous hiking trails that meander around Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand located in the South Island. It is quite easy to follow beginning from the Visitor’s Center going thru open grassland that later on becomes rocky terrain with large boulders dotting the 5 km. route. It crosses Hooker River via a long steel bridge whose waters come from the melting Mueller glacier. The sides of the mountains get closer and you can see moraine walls – rocks and sediment deposited by glaciers during their retreat across the land. We crossed two more foot bridges before the wind started to pick up making them sway and scaring some of the hikers on it. The natural formation of the valley turns it into a funnel where the wind blows strongly and sometimes howls loudly. We only got more than halfway to the lake which was the final destination before turning back since a rainstorm was threatening to pour hard and we were not equipped for such bad weather.

Aoraki / Mt. Cook is about 3,724 meters high. It was initially clear on our way there but the weather changed for the worse later.
The northern end of Lake Pukaki is where the mountain range to Mt. Cook begins.
The hike begins here thru grassland.
Large boulders dot the trail as you go higher.
A steel bridge crosses the Hooker River.
Moraine-filled lake whose water is filled by the melting Mueller glacier.
The glacier at the top of the mountain range.
This suspension bridge swayed a lot when the strong wind barreled its way down the valley.

Moraine-filled wall on the slopes of the mountain.

The Hooker River.

Part of the lake near the end of the range.
This was the last part we reached before turning back as storm clouds started to cover the peak of Mt. Cook.
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