|It's come into my head that maybe not everyone understands the little plastic smiley face bride and groom thing. Or, maybe I'm completely wrong and it's really obvious. See, the website is called "honeymoonplanet" which I think describes clearly enough that this is our backpacking honeymoon around the world. The plastic bride and groom is something like a mascot, but more like a garden gnome. Have you seen the movie Amelie? If you have, then you get it and you don't need to read the rest of this paragraph. If you haven't, please read on.
In Amelie, one of the girls is a flight attendant, and as a joke she steals this guy's garden gnome from his lawn and takes it all over the world with her. She then puts the gnome in front of famous places and takes a picture. Next, she writes a little note from the gnome, and includes it with the picture in a letter back home to the owner of the gnome, leaving the appearance that the gnome is traveling the world, taunting them all the way. It's really quite funny, and the rest of the movie is good too, but he gnome sideline is my favourite part. Anyway, it was our idea to use the little plastic bride and groom as the official honeymoonplanet gnome.
Mt Cook is unquestionably one of the most picturesque valleys in the world. It's hard to describe really without seeing it. The mountains are not immense (Cook is only about 3800 m - the highest in NZ), but it's just the way the valley floors are so flat with meandering rivers, the imposing nature of the various lateral and terminal moraines left behind from the glaciers, and the sheer number of snow capped peaks all around you. It's very beautiful.
We drove here in one long day from Te Anau, stopping to watch the bungee jumpers just outside of Queenstown. This is one of those things I am content just to watch and not partake in. It's pretty cool though. They calculate a person's weight and then use the elasticity factors of the rope to have people just dunk their heads in the river below. Pretty cool, but not my cup of tea. At $140 bucks a crack, it ain't cheap either!
Coming up the valley to Mt Cook village is kind of surreal. The landscape changes rapidly as you drive along side a lake that can only be described as a combination of teal and aqua marine - it's hard to decide what colour it really is. We checked into the YHA dorms (we couldn't get a double) which is the only budget gig in town. Really nice hostel with all the usual YHA amenities. The only disturbance happened in the middle of the night when the couple beside us came back in and she somehow dumped her entire water bottle all over the bed. She then had to clean things up quietly in the dark using her headlamp Ugh... what a drag! The next morning, I got up before everyone to a perfectly blue sky and nothing but the serene clean feeling of mountain air. I just went outside and stood in it and it was amazing.
Suckers for punishment, we decided to do the one day tramp up to a set of tarns on the west side of the valley to get better views of cook since the day was so fantastic. We'd be late to Christchurch, but, hey, when is the weather ever this good here! The climb was very steep and someone I know who shall remain unnamed was very cranky requiring many motivational tactics all the way up. In the end, she was thrilled though because the view was so amazing. We actually passed the tarns themselves because I misread the signs and we made it all the way to the snow line - good thing we asked or we might have needed our skis! That was my fault of course, a fact I was reminded of for the rest of the day. ;)
After our tramp, we hopped in the car and set off for the coast. Nearing the end of our time in New Zealand, we are starting to find ourselves saying "it's time to move on", yet at the same time, it seems that we could stay here for longer, especially after seeing a place like Cook. Certainly there are other amazing places here, and they are just around the next bend...