Originally when we were first planning our New Zealand itinerary, we were a little clueless about the roads here. One tramping guidebook we were using had the Welcome Flat trail from the West Coast on one page and the Mueller Hut trail from Mt Cook on the very next page of the same section. So, logically we decided that these two trips could be done back-to-back. Silly us, the two areas are on opposite sides of the divide, and the shortest drive from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook is 6-8 hours... We're so glad that we had the time to make the drive (split it up with a night in Haast) and also spent enough time in the area to wait out the weather.
It was cloudy and rainy when we first arrived and the mountain was nowhere to be seen through the fog. Luckily the Tasman valley was much nicer and actually sunny for the morning. The Tasman glacier is New Zealand’s largest glacier and it was amazing to get so close to it and to see how the valley was carved over thousands of years. The geology of this island is fascinating. We decided to hike to Ball Shelter and spend the night there. The track was fairly good for the most part except there were some really unstable bits where rock slides had wiped out the trail. It was a bit unnerving climbing over the wobbly boulders, but we made it. The shelter is quite new and only has three bunks. We stayed in our tent anyways, but had the use of the hut to ourselves as the place was deserted. Just awesome!
While we were in the national park, the earthquake struck in Christchurch. We were sitting in a café at Mt Cook Village at the time. Jordan felt a bit of a “bump” but thought it was just vertigo at the time. Then we heard the news on the radio. Thankfully our friends in Christchurch and Darfield are all okay, but our thoughts are with them as they recover from this disaster. The quake also left its mark on the Tasman glacier as several million tonnes of ice calved off the glacier causing a 3 meter wave in the Tasman Lake. We went back the next day and it was quite impressive to see the before and after comparison. The photos are a little deceptive, but there were some boats in the water that gave an idea of the huge size of the new chunks of ice in the water. Read more>>>