Spare Time Done the Right Way – Hoophorn Valley

“On a Mish” #273 Hoophorn Valley. Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. 2.7.2017. Not much is simple when it comes to New Zealand’s mountains. Places like Piopiotahi / Milford Sound are difficult to get to no matter how you travel there, and I believe this makes the place even better. Like Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, Aoraki / Mount Cook Village is well off the beaten track. Many take in the view (if they are lucky enough) of Aoraki / Mt Cook(3724m) from the highway around Lake Pukaki, but most continue on north or south and miss out on the 50 odd kilometers of road leading to the village. The road into the national park is an incredible experience no matter what the weather is doing. Following the edge of the lake for a while, it then crosses over the last high station at Glentanner. Then you arrive in the realm of New Zealand’s biggest peaks. The long straights of the road beside the braids of the Tasman River have been the cause of a few car crashes over the years. The sight of Aoraki on top of his permanent seat at the head of the mountain table is a mesmerising sight to say the least! After passing the national park sign you are engulfed by the land with mountains now on all sides. The constant crumbling of the glaciers on Mt Sefton’s east face are an in-your-face display of the harsh environment you are now in. I was very lucky to live in the village for a while, and living amongst the giants makes for spectacular views 24/7…

A valley I would often visit is located only about ten minutes out of the village, and yet received very few visitors. The Hoophorn Valley and its stream sit below the very impressive jagged pyramid of Mt Sealy(2627m). I have camped in the valley a few times, and also climbed some of the mountains that stand tall in the area.

On this occasion I was making my way south and had some spare time, so I decided it was crucial to spend a night in the Aoraki area. On the drive I decided to head up the Hoophorn Valley to make the experience well worth the 50km drive off the main highway south. With clear skies above, the journey into the park was as spectacular as ever, and New Zealand’s mountain king was looking like a 100% Pure New Zealand poster. Arriving late in the afternoon meant watching a stunning sunset while enjoying dinner at a spot just out of the valley. The temperatures dropped like the sun behind the mountains, and the fading light was making me think about the warmth of my sleeping bag. With a still night and no clouds the sky was ablaze with stars, a famous sight only available in the International Dark Sky Reserve in the Mackenzie Basin region. Early-ish the next day it was time to hit the road and continue the drive south. The side trip to Aoraki was definitely worth it, and now with the epic batteries recharged it was time to head towards the next adventure…

Camping in Hoophorn Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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