Travelling around New Zealand without a car had been surprisingly easy so far, but the only time I kinda wished I had my own transport was the Mount Cook leg. I’d planned 3 nights there, and realised the day before I left Wanaka that there’s no supermarket there. The alpine town is made up of a handful of hotels and lodges with restaurants, and some simple convenience stores selling bare essentials such as milk, cheese, and some canned food. The nearest supermarket is a 45 minute drive away.
As much as I was excited about it being the most remote destination of my trip, it also meant that I had to pack 3 days worth of food that won’t go bad on my 5-hour coach journey there. So I ended up packing things like pasta, cereal, bananas, apples, biscuits, sausages, cheese, Indomie, and salads.
To be honest, I was really disappointed when I arrived at Mt Cook village. All I could see that cloudy afternoon was a couple of rather unremarkable mountains, and I was so bummed out that New Zealand’s tallest peak looked so drab. But I also didn’t realise how much low hanging clouds could alter the alpine landscape. Mt Cook was in fact completely covered in what I thought was just clouds in the sky.
I was really smitten, however, by how far and wide the plains stretched. I’ve never been to a land as vast and empty as this, and decided I should do some exploring on two wheels because these flat roads are just made for that!
This is where I stayed. Took a bed in a 4-bed dorm at Mt Cook Lodge & Motels (above) for NZ39/night. The ensuite bathroom even has a bathtub! Perfect to soothe tired muscles after long tramping days. Their bicycle rental is also really affordable, at $25 for 4 hours.
Every cell in my body was buzzing with a brand of euphoria that only nature can ignite. I was feeling a natural high stimulated by the silence, serenity, and sublimity of it all. It felt like a dream, where I’m the only person on this strange planet. I rode on and on, fueled by an unprecedented feeling of freedom and peace.
I followed the rudimentary map provided by my lodge and rode about 8km to the Tasmien Glacier, New Zealand’s longest glacier. It turned out to be a sad sight as the popular vantage point looked out to more rock than ice now due to its rapid melting in recent years.
All this majesty, just on my first day here! And I haven’t even gone hiking yet. By the time the day ended, I was sure that this is my favourite place on Earth.
More hikes and even more stunning views coming up during my next two days here!