An Audience with Aoraki (Part One) – Te Anau to Twizel

“On a Mish” #396 An Audience with Aoraki (Part One). Te Anau to Twizel. Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. 11.3.2024. In a place full of incredible locations Aotearoa has a few that are just a touch more epic than others. I have been very fortunate to have been able to work and live in some of these places, and to see how others react to your ‘backyard’ is a very special encounter to witness. Working in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park gave me an opportunity to spend time with New Zealand’s tallest peak, and be part of an audience while Aoraki is performing is a show I could watch on repeat…

A car shuffle meant I was heading up from Te Anau to Twizel to catch up with my parents. Along with seeing the olds and little Flora, I was also looking forward to being close to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. I spent a summer guiding people on the Tasman Glacier and, to my surprise, it was just under ten years ago. I had seen mighty Aoraki Mt Cook a couple of times from the road that hugs the southern coastline of Lake Pukaki, but it had been a very long time since I had turned off the main highway and onto the road which finishes where New Zealand’s biggest mountains grow.

Oddly, I find a long drive worse on my hip than physical activity. Of course, a long walk amongst the mountains can leave me feeling rather average, but I’ll take the walk over a drive any day of the week! With this in mind, I wasn’t looking forward to the four-hour plus journey from Te Anau to Twizel.

I gathered my gear and got myself ready for a big drive. Before leaving I scanned the weather forecast for Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, and unfortunately it looked like the one day we had free was going to be wet (at least in the morning according to the forecast). The weather is something we have no control over, so for now I’ll just focus on the drive.

On the journey I could see the clouds painting a picture of what was to come. The wind increased and by the time I got close to Twizel my car was rocking to the tune of a gale. It was hot and windy with an interesting sky above. With the wind came heat, and for someone who hasn’t felt many days over 20 degrees since moving south, 27 degrees was a big change.

I drove into the town which most drive by when heading north or south on state highway 8 and located the B&B that my parents had booked. I used to travel to Twizel for groceries when I lived at Aoraki Mt Cook Village, but I hadn’t spent any time in the little town in the heart of the Mackenzie Country. I was blown away both figuratively and literally by a place I used to not think about much at all.

We all regrouped, and it was great to catch up. Over dinner we planned the next day and discussed the weather and how it might affect our day. From my time living at Aoraki Mt Cook Village I knew it was an interesting place to visit no matter what the weather was doing. So, the plan was to head up State Highway 80 for an audience with Aoraki…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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