[ Apologies in advance for the plethora of landscape shots in this post ]

First, a few photos from the NZ All Blacks vs SA Springboks Tri Nations match last week at Carisbrook (btw, the All Blacks beat the Aussie Wallabies last night to clinch the Tri Nations Cup).

Elliott and Tyler:

Some American girl we met at the game, and Tom:

Yours truly (some kiwis had haka man temporary tattoos so they gave us some – I had to put it in my mouth to soak it)

The All Blacks performing their new haka (click here for info from the All Blacks site on their haka or click here for the Wikipedia explanation and scroll down to read about this new, particularly interesting haka) for the Wallabies:

Now to the road trip. We rented a car, which turned out to be Fidel, the exact same red Mitsubishi Lancer we rented for our trip to the West Coast in July! It also turned out that this was to be Fidel’s last journey – he’s now headed to the used car lot after several years of serving his time as a rental car.

We began our drive and soon came to Moeraki, home of the famed Moeraki Boulders. We pulled off the highway and set out to see these amazing natural wonders up close. In the interest of keeping the text in this post somewhat brief, here are two photos of the explanation for these boulders. Check it out:

And now, the boulders:

After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed back to the highway toward Mount Cook. Here’s a random landscape pic I took about an hour before we got to Mt Cook.

I thought these two mountains were nifty – one is primarily white with sprinklings of black, while the other is primarily black with sprinklings of white, even though they’re right beside each other! I guess either the snow only fell on one, or the black one is warmer?

We arrived in Mt Cook village which is really just a scattering of hotels and hostels, and as it was dark, went to bed.

In the morning, we woke up to beautiful sunny weather – the Mt cook area is very very often rainy and cloudy, especially at this time of year, so we were very lucky. Here’s what our YHA hostel looked like:

And check out this shelf of snow up on a mountain nearby – it looks ready to fall.

We decided to spend the day doing a 4 hour walk through Hooker Valley to the Hooker Glacier and back, and after eating and making sandwiches, headed out.

Mount Cook, since 1998 officially named Aoraki Mt Cook (Aoraki is the traditional Maori name for the mountain, meaning Cloud Piercer), is the highest mountain in New Zealand. In January 1992, the top fell off (literally) and as a result the mountain is now some 20 metres shorter than it used to be. And here it is in the far distance:

And again:

After some traipsing through the beautiful valley for some time, we arrived at the glacial lake at the foot of the Hooker Glacier, which itself is at the foot of Aoraki Mt Cook. Looking back toward the trail we had just walked, this is what we saw:

Here’s the glacial lake with big ice thingies floating in it. The glacier is visible in the background, a mass of ice and rock.

To be continued..