Last night was the coldest I've ever been in my life. Once I saw that the overnight forecast for Mount Cook Village was a balmy -14° at 3am, I started looking for ways out of the area. By the time I got down to the roads though, they'd already begun to ice over; so I settled in for the long haul.
Once I'd appropriately rugged myself up though, it wasn't all that bad. That was until at about 4am, when everybody in the camp was woken up by our vans shaking, and the loudest noise I think I've ever heard. Further up the mountain, there must have been a large avalanche or rock slide that was shaking the entire area. I've never experienced anything like it. We were all completely safe, but it's incredible imagining just how much earth must have been moving only a kilometre or two away.
Once I'd woken up properly a few hours later, I went for a walk down the Hooker Valley track to try and see where the mountain had caved. I couldn't see anything - making me think it must have been on the other side. However, I was treated to another stunning sunrise!
Once I'd removed all the ice from my car, it was time to set off down the road again. I spent a good portion of the morning at a cafe in Twizel, just trying to thaw myself out. Once I had a belly full of breakfast and a few coffees under the belt though - it was time to select which town I'd be staying in for the night. I ended up choosing Wanaka.
One thing I've loved about New Zealand so far is just how frequently the scenery changes. This morning I woke up surrounded by glaciers and mountains, and not even a couple of hours later - I was driving through a completely arid; yet strangely beautiful piece of country.
As I drove into Wanaka, for the first time on this trip I decided that I would be staying here a few nights. It's that beautiful. Or maybe I just missed having people around? It's easily the most populated place I've been since Wellington. Regardless of what sold me on it, I'm here for two nights. Once I'd selected my accommodation (Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park), I popped down to the lake to have another coffee, and a bit of a walk around (the cafe here serves Piccolo's! Everyone else has looked at me like I'm broken).
Weather permitting, tomorrow morning I'm hoping to have a run at "Roy's Peak". It's a 1.3km climb spread out over 8km - so basically, it's three hours of climbing up hill. It's also supposedly one of the most spectacular views in New Zealand. Unfortunately it's looking like it might be raining & cloudy for the next few days (I've been lucky so far, it was bound to happen eventually). Fortunately enough, Wanaka is perfectly positioned between so many other things I want to do in the next few weeks. If I can't make the climb tomorrow, I'll keep an eye on the weather and come back when it's cleared up. This is one of those things that I'm not leaving New Zealand without doing.