After visiting the south we headed back to Queenstown again for one day and then the next stop was Mt Cook. At 3754 metres it is the tallest mountain in New Zealand and named after Captain James Cook. We were lucky that after driving through fog most of the day we finally hit a clearing and were able to see the mountain clearly. The Stray tour prides itself for taking people off the beaten track, and that it did with this stop as our accommodation was at the foot of the mountains and we had an amazing view from our dorm room.
We were in rooms of 4 so I shared with Janny, Anna and Rebecca and it was all fun and games until I somehow managed to lock myself in the bathroom and Janny had to hack at the handle with a knife to let me out! We headed out for a little walk and explore and found a family of snowmen someone had made, all sat on a bench complete with a snow dog. There was not much else to do at mt cook apart from walk around and we lasted as long as we could in the freezing cold - I had no socks left and only one glove, so after that we sprawled ourselves across huge beanbags and watched films the rest of the afternoon. After a communal dinner (which I ruined by dropping a whole tub of stock powder into) we hit the sack. We stayed up ages laughing as Janny is a medical student and she entertained us with bizarre and disgusting stories she had come across during her hospital placements. Apparently every hospital has a 'hall of fame' in the surgery department full of items that have been removed from people... of which she has witnessed an apple, a barbie doll and a toilet brush (although she didn't disclose whether it was bristle or handle side up haha).
Next morning we headed off towards Rangitata with a stop off partway for a couple of hours where we went ice skating. You could go snow tubing (similar to what I did in Vang Vieng, Laos where you sit in a tube and go down the river, except this time in more clothes and on snow) but there was quite a long waiting time and we didn't have that much time so we decided on ice skating. Luckily there were no injuries but I did come close to taking out a few children who decided to skate in the complete wrong direction.
That night the stop was at Rangitata, not much to comment on as it was pretty much just a bed for the night (bunks were 3 beds high!). At the back was a ping pong table and we all went a bit nuts whilst playing - Becca and I smashing balls everywhere and wearing kayaking helmets for protection whilst Anna rode a bike in circles around us... We invented Ting Tong - tennis meets ping pong, or basically just ping pong but you ignore the table ha. At one point we tried to put music on and the whole stereo fell through the wall.. then some guys made us play goon pong with them before having mexican for tea! Finally at about 2 am we scaled our bunks (I'd managed to secure the middle bed) and passed out for the night.