Glaciers 3 – Mt. Cook /Aoraki
|Into the mountains|
|The road follows a typical U- shaped glacial valley. This one has been formed by the conjunction of three glaciers - it's hard to convey the scale|
The easiest glacier to get to is the Tasman Glacier. Though like the others, it is now a shadow of its former self, it is in the process of making a large lake which currently sports a few icebergs. The wind is bitterly cold. Since the glacier no longer flows into the small lakes nearby, which used to be called “The Blue Lakes,” and these are now only fed by rainwater, they have turned green instead because they now support algae. By walking further to Kea Point, you get a glimpse of both the Mueller Glacier and the Hooker Glacier which together have left behind an enormous moraine wall.
|Icebergs calve off the glacier face and float in the lake|
|The once "Blue Lakes" are no longer blue because the Tasman Glacier no longer feeds them and rain water allows algae to grow, making them look green|
|At Kea Point you can see both the Hooker Glacier which comes in from the west (top in this picture) and the Mueller Glacier which comes in from the South (on the left in this case)|
|This is the massive moraine wall lef t behind at the point where they used to join|
There are a number of other glaciers and longer walks here, but given my recent form and the rapidly deteriorating weather, I do an all -weather walk called the Governor’s Bush Walk. Apart from some great views, it was fascinating because it had a great variety of mosses and ferns as well as species such as celery top pines, which we have in Tasmania too. I can’t wait to show them to the lichen and moss experts to see if they are as similar as they look or only distant cousins. The degree of difference is a hint as to how long our two countries have been leading separate lives. My biggest thrill though, apart from seeing the glaciers, was finding a Mt. Cook Buttercup, the only one out so far.
|Impressive lichens- the same or similar to those in Tasmania's south west|
|The magnificent Mt. Cook Buttercup -Ranunculus lyalli - is about 8cm (3.2 inches) across|
There'll be no star -gazing tonight. The weather bureau has predicted overnight snow with road closures, but I have already booked and paid to do Milford Sound in a couple of days and I am still a very long way from there.