This post was going to be called Tramping in Hooker Valley but then we thought better of it. Tramping is what they call hiking in New Zealand. Hooker Valley is a beautiful valley in the heart of the Southern Alps. But put altogether it sounds plain indecent.
When we woke up, it was a bit cloudy. Clouds seemed to nestle in the mountains.
A cup of coffee while admiring the view
The hike itself was highly enjoyable due to two things. First was the variety – we walked across 2 bridges, several streams, up and down hills, on a elevated wooden path and the whole time the views were breathtaking. The second thing were the people we encountered – whenever we passed people they would smile, say hello or good morning. Whenever we stopped to let others pass they would thank us. And that went for every person in a group, whether is was just a couple or a group of 10 Japanese tourists. We even stopped and chatted with a couple of people.
The interesting part came when we reached Hooker Lake and Hooker glacier. The glacier was too far away for us to see up close as it has been steadily receding and once had been a glacier is now a valley full of rocks with a glacial lake with pieces of glacier occasionaly floating in it.
We wanted to get as close the lake as possible, and in order to do that we had to get across couple streams – freezing and rapid as they were coming down the mountains. Our first attempt involved taking off our boots and taking turns wearing my sandals to walk across the stream and then throwing sandals to each other. I think the sparkly bits on my sandals set off Mike’s hary feet rather well.
But the water in the streams was just too cold – our feet ached after less than a minute, so we decided to cross the other ones by hopping over them
The walk back was no less enjoyable and the weather was just perfect – sunny, a bit hot but with a breeze cooling us down.
We also saw and heard snow falling down a mountain
When we got back, we had to move to a different hotel as most places were fully booked and the Backpacker’s lodge only had a room available for one night. We moved into a motel unit of the legendary Hermitage hotel. Here is some background on the hotel from the official site:
“The first Hermitage was built in 1884, under the direction of Frank Huddleston. Huddleston, surveyor and water colour artist from Timaru, was appointed ranger for the Mount Cook area because of fears that local vegetation, especially the bush and the native lilies and daisies, would be destroyed by grazing and burning.
In 1885, Huddleston sold his land and hotel to the Mount Cook-Hermitage Company; which was formed to create a swiss-style alpine village. The company bought rugged horse-drawn coaches to run from the railhead at Fairlie to the Hermitage. It took visitors three days to reach the Hermitage from the coastal port of Timaru! Huddleston remained as manager in 1894. Two years later the New Zealand Government took over the Mount Cook-Hermitage Company, then in difficulties. In 1906, the Mount Cook Motor Company began running service cars to the Hermitage. Interestingly, one of the first was driven by John Rutherford who drove in the first regular horse coach in 1886. The original Hermitage could not cope with increased demand for accommodation, the more so because thirty years of bad weather and fire had taken their toll. As work began on the second Hermitage, the first was damaged by flood; two months later it was destroyed by another flood.
The second Hermitage opened in 1914, controlled and promoted by the then Department of Tourist and Health Resorts. The Mount Cook Motor Company was keen to help extend it as a visitor numbers drew on the company’s services and also to keep the Hermitage open throughout winter. Eventually the company applied to lease the property, taking it over in 1921. The Hermitage was extended, camping facilities developed and package tours offered – for perhaps the first time in New Zealand. Further extensions came in 1924. In 1944 the lease expired and the Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company, as it become known, returned the Hermitage to the Government.
Disaster struck in 1957 when the second Hermitage was razed to the ground in a spectacular fire. The Government moved quickly to design and build a new hotel on the present site. It was operational by May 1958 and has since been extended several times. The latest in 2001 which included the addition of the Aoraki Wing and a major upgrade of the public areas.”
We didn`t stay at the main building and only went to to check in and eat. Our motel was a 15-minute walk away from the main building
In the evening we walked to the main building for a buffet-style dinner. After a big meal and an all-day hike we were tired and heavy and practically rolled home. But on the way we saw two bunny rabbits which was my first time seeing them in the wild