Now we headed towards Mt Cook, which is the tallest peak in the whole of Australasia. The drive along Lake Pukaki towards Mt Cook was stunning. You can see the snow capped peaks in the distance while to the right you have this amazing bright blue lake. We headed first to view the Tasman Glacier which involved clambering up some rocks for about 25 minutes. We were rewarded by this fantastic view over the Tasman valley, there were chunks of ice floating below us. The tasman glacier was different to the Fox and Franz on the west coast, this was much dirtier, at first I didn't realise which part of the valley was the glacier! We sat up there for a while cherishing the silence around us. Next we made our way to the Hooker Valley where we did a three hour walk which was very scenic, walking through the valley surrounded by snow capped peaks. We crossed a few swing bridges and got closer to Mt Cook, the way the snow had settled made it look like it had a face staring at us. At the end of the walk was a pretty spectacular view of the Hooker glacier which was a bit cleaner than the Tasman. There were huge chunks of white ice floating in the river, very impressive! We spent the night at a sweet caravan park in a tiny town called Twizel.
The following day we headed towards Lake Tekapo. We had to drive by Lake Pukaki again and it was absolutely beautiful. We pulled over and walked down to the lake front. The lake was so still it was like a mirror. The pale blue sky was reflected and on the horizon were snow topped mountains. It was so unbelievably gorgeous, we will never forget it!
We reached Lake Tekapo which is a small town on the edge of another beautiful lake. The weather was perfect and warm so we enjoyed sitting outside and reading in a nice caravan park perched up on a hill overlooking the lake. One of the hilights of Tekapo is it's a recognised dark night reserve which means it has one of the clearest skies in the world. They have strict light pollution rules in the town as up on Mt John there is an observatory run by the University of Canterbury. There are also night time tours by a company called Earth & Sky. We waited for a perfectly clear night and booked ourself on a tour. We were picked up in a minibus and taken up a winding road to the top of Mt John, because of the light pollution rules you are not allowed to drive the last bit of the hill with any headlights on! We had a very good driver! The tour was really interesting, the guides had really cool green laser torches to point out areas of interest, we also got to look through really expensive hitech telescopes. We saw the jewel box constallation, the tarantula nebula and venus. The most amazing thing though was when we saw saturn through the telescope because you could see the rings around it! It was so cool it looked like a cartoon. We were shown some other constallations, some of them had very technical names! There was an astronomy photographer on the tour as well and she set up everyones cameras on a tracking device so we got some absolutely amazing pictures. We saw a few shooting stars too! It was well worth doing the tour and we were very fortunate with the clear skies.
The following day we walked up Mt John in the daylight, it was so hot! The view from the top is great over the Mackenzie basin. We could see Lake Alexandria where on our last trip we stayed. We fully enjoyed the weather and the beautiful scenery, I don't think we really wanted to leave!