We had booked into The Hermitage at Mt. Cook National Park for two nights, but before going up to our room were looking around the lobby. My Lovely Bride had to refresh herself, and went to “the Ladies”, as they say here. She came back into the lobby with this devilish grin on her face. The exchange went like this…
“Ty, you have to come take a picture…”
“Yes, Darling, where are we going?”
“Into The Ladies..”
“What? I can’t go in there!”
“There’s no one else in there. Hurry, you have to see something…”
This photo shows MLB washing her hands, but where is the sink? There is no sink… the counter is set out an inch from the wall and angles down towards the back at 15 degrees, and all the water flows into a narrow rectangular trough hidden under the counter. Very cool. But when we were leaving “The Ladies”, a young female hotel worker was walking by, and MLB says in a loud voice, “Pervert!” The young gal whipped her head around, looked at me sharply, and I said, “I’m very sorry, but my wife has a strange sense of humor…”
The terrain here is marked by classic U-shaped glacial valleys with flat floors. 20,000 years ago, ice covered most of the South Island, and glaciers up to several thousand feet deep sculpted the landscape. When the earth warmed about 14,000 years ago (long before SUVs), the ice melted dramatically and sea levels rose to their present level. The glaciers were mere vestiges of their former grandeur when Maoris and then Europeans migrated here in the period 1400-1850.
It wasn’t very icy this day when we went hiking; in fact, it was downright warm. The glacial lake was right chilly though, and there were several small icebergs grounded at the discharge, where a frigid stream started tumbling downhill through a series of rock gardens.
On the way back to our hotel, we found a whitewater kayaker hitching a ride. We pulled over and met Richard, from Corvallis, Oregon. He and several friends had flown over with their kayaks to paddle white water rivers for a month. They were having a ball, and had just finished running the rapids downstream from the lake. As we were heading to the parking lot where he was parked, Richard mentioned that his rental camper van was a bit loud. I thought he meant that the engine was loud, but when we saw the paint job on this van, it sank in.
We hated to say goodbye to Mt. Cook, but we had enjoyed our short stay here to the max. It is one of my most favorite places on earth. It had taken me 20 years to get Suzanne down here, but she fell in love with the Southern Alps as well. Our next stop would be Queenstown, home of bungy jumping… Uh-oh…