Day 4. Mount Cook. I should’ve learnt a lesson when I fell on my behind one too many times during that hike to Roy’s Peak and should have gotten myself a proper hiking shoes. I should’ve learnt a lesson when the reality of Roy’s Peak was marred too badly by our expectations and set a realistic hope. I should’ve learnt a lesson when the weather report had said sunny and yet the visibility had been 0.5% at the peak, and not trusted the weather forecast of “some suns in the afternoon”. I should’ve. I didn’t.When we set out of Wanaka, the weather was sunny. So far so good. I meant to buy a pair of hiking shoes but then I thought we were going to do the Hooker VALLEY track; we won’t be going too far up to even see snow. I had all but given up seeing lupins (what a silly dream it was), seeing a clear sky was proving to be miraculous. The drive from Wanaka to White Horse Hill Campsite, which is the starting point of the track was about 2 hours or so. By the end of the first hour, we started to see the angry grey clouds that were already gathering in the distance. It started pouring by the time we reached Lake Pukaki. Seeing the famous Mt Cook as a backdrop to our kiwi road trip was all I had ever wanted. But turned out, not having that desire fulfilled was the least of our worries.
When we reached the place, I had to smile to see it covered in snow. It was raining and despite the weather, we accepted our fate and started our walk, without the least of ideas that it was going to be proven the most harrowing walking experiences we’ve ever had in our lives. I had remembered to bring my raincoat but my friends weren’t so thoughtful. The track was icy every inch of the way. The way wasn’t steep or anything, after all it was indeed a valley walk, but at some places, there were bound to be some inclinations, and slight as they might be, they were my worst nightmares. I had done my research and according to my research the walk was a safe 5 hours long and had 3 suspension bridges. It was those bridges that I was looking forward to the most, since hey, suspension bridge = jhulungey pul from back home. My goal was to reach a walkway that I had seen in countless Instagram pictures and thereupon have an unmatched view of the Aoraki/Mt Cook.It was cold out there, and I had to focus 100% on not slipping. At those instances that I did happen to look up, I would get rain in my eyes and all I would see was snow. My shoes were the worst, so my friend held me the entire time. And her clothes were soaked through and through. It was quite a pity party. We reached our first suspension bridge quite early on, making us hopeful that we might as well make it to the end (wherever that was). But the second bridge took us forever to reach, and by the time we did make it, we had also come to a decision that we were going to abandon ship. The Hooker Valley Track ship. These were our reasons: the weather didn’t seem to relent a bit, I was getting my cramps, my feet were soaked, my friends’ entire bodies (except their feet) were soaked [my friend swore her jacket weighed a tonne], the way was getting snowier, if that even was possible and having walked for 2 miserable hours, we had all but reached halfway and Lord knew what lay ahead. I am not usually the one to give up on a walk but there has to be exceptions once in awhile.We made it back to our car in one solid piece. Logic would have us scampering back to our accommodation and licking our wounds (New Zealand weather 2 – 1 Us weary travelers) But rest is for the weak. So we set off towards Church of the Good Shepherd, located on the shore of Lake Tekapo; an hour worth of detour. Before I forget to mention, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo need a massive shoutout. They are such beautiful lakes with those milky blue water that can only be a result of being so damn close to the highest mountain of New Zealand.We had had a lot of road time to be not weary by the time we got back to Wanaka. The best thing to do was change into warm clothing and hit the bar.