After the beautiful climb up Roy’s Peak, it was time to depart Wanaka and make our drive north to Mt. Cook. Originally, we were going to exclude the region, as it was a huge detour from Queenstown, but we decided it was important to go take a look at New Zealand’s tallest mountain!
En route to Aoraki (Mt. Cook), we detoured briefly to check out Omarama’s Clay Cliffs. Pass through a gate, down a dirt road, and through another gate until you hit a “4WD Only” sign. Assuming you don’t have a 4WD car, get out there and take a stroll around the area. The Cliffs are quite an interesting stop along the way to Mt. Cook.
In order to get to Mt. Cook Village, you have to drive around Lake Pukaki, the largest of the three glacial lakes in the region. The source of Lake Pukaki comes largely from the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers, giving it that absolutely stunning blue color. The best part about Lake Pukaki? It provides you with your first view of Mt. Cook in the distance! You can’t go wrong when you pair snowcapped mountains with incredibly blue water.
We checked into YHA’s Alpine Hostel, boasting mountain views from every window, and were most definitely not disappointed.
Nestled in the heart of the mountains, YHA is your most affordable and comfortable option. I’m not sure you’d want to camp with the winds that we experienced! It has a very homey feel to it, a big common area, nice-sized kitchen, and cozy TV room.
We found the receptionist to be incredibly knowledgeable about the region, and she gave us many inside tips. After she told us that there were rare icebergs in the Tasman Terminal Lake, we went to see them for ourselves!
Needless to say, it was a fantastic recommendation! Check this out:
Exhausted from a long day of travel, we cooked up some food and watched the sunset from YHA Mt. Cook. Beautiful!
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**Special thanks to YHA Hostels and Air New Zealand for sponsoring our journey. As always, all opinions are my own. Photographs taken by David M Gallo Photography.