An Audience with Aoraki (Part Two) – Twizel to Aoraki Mt Cook Village

“On a Mish” #396 An Audience with Aoraki (Part Two). Twizel to Aoraki Mt Cook Village. Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. 11.3.2024. Jaws will drop when approaching Aoraki Mt Cook Village on a sunny day (or any day when the mountains are visible). The biggest peaks in Aotearoa rise and grow in grandeur and size as you get closer to them on the famous State Highway 80 (the road to Aoraki Mt Cook Village). To be in the audience when Aoraki is putting on a show is nothing less than spectacular, and something that more foreign tourists witness than the citizens of the country the mountain lives in. There are reasons people come from all over the world to the tiny town below massive mountains, and we hoped that the 3724m high marvel would make an appearance when my parents and I came to town…

Along with the stunning views, one thing the Mackenzie Country is famous for is wind. When I lived in Aoraki Mt Cook Village a storm produced a gust powerful enough to pick up and throw a shipping container at the Mt Cook Airport. As our evening in Twizel rolled on, the wind increased and the stars vanished behind menacing looking clouds. The forecast mentioned rain over night and into the morning, and we just hoped that the weather would blow through earlier than forecast.

Early-ish the next day we awoke to see that what we hoped would happen had. Although the weather can be completely different in Twizel to Aoraki Mt Cook Village, at least it was sunny where we were. We hoped the weather would do the same thing at the village by the afternoon, so we spent the morning exploring the canals and other cool features dotted around Twizel.

Once it got near lunch time, we had to bite the bullet and head up to the village, and just hope for the best. As we made our way down State Highway 80, we at first were amazed at some of the passing technics some people were using. The mountain isn’t going anywhere so I am always surprised by how some people risk it all by getting there a couple of minutes earlier. Our road toll is too high as it is, so we took it slow and let the idiots do their thing.

The cloud hanging over the Main Divide meant we couldn’t see any of the big peaks. However, as we got closer Aoraki lived up to its name. Aoraki means ‘The Cloud Piercer’ and as we got closer it began to cut through any cloud that dared to come close. As we got closer to the village it seemed as if the mountains were waiting for us to arrive, because once we did arrive, we were greeted by the sight everyone really wants in this special place.

The wind was still blowing when we got to the village, but the sun was out and so were the mountains. The jumble of ice below Mt Sefton and the Footstool glistened blue in the light and then further to the right was Aoraki, which by now had pierced the last of the remaining cloud and was fully on display for all to see. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, which was awesome considering the forecast said the opposite.

After lunch with an excellent view, we were ready for a walk in paradise. It had been nearly ten years since the three of us had been in Aoraki Mt Cook together, and on that mish we went up the Sealy Tarns Track on a day with similar weather. The plan for this day was to head to the ‘other’ tarns. The Red Tarns Track is like Sealy Tarns’ lesser-known brother. With views on each track similar, it is Sealy Tarns that receives much more attention / foot traffic, and on a day like this I knew it would be very busy. I was after a much quieter experience, so we headed to the shelter at the start of the Red Tarns Track and got prepared for an uphill mission.

When I used to live in the village I would run up and down the track as training for bigger and better things. Now that I am older and less able, I was just hoping I could actually get up to the top of the track and then down again without breaking myself. I can assure you that there won’t be any running on this mish up and down the Red Tarns Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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