This morning, after getting up, shopping for bagage locks and power adapters and breakfast, we got in our rental Nissan Wingroad (what the hell kind of model is that? Never heard of…. small car, no luxuries, but cheap and large enough to hold our enormous bags) and drove to Mount Cook. With 3700-something metres Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand and is part of the local ‘Alps’ mountain range. Clearly, very few New Zealanders have ever visited the real Alps, because the mountain range looks really nothing like that. It is very pretty, properly snow-capped, a few extremely blue lakes surrounding the plains around the mountains, glaciers, and all that stuff, but compared to Switzerland, the mountain area seemed kind of small, at least to me. But I am spoiled! We had a lovely day though, we took the scenic route from Christchurch, and it was a very nice drive up. We did two short hikes near Mount Cook in the afternoon, which was great: it’s summer here, so although we only finished at around seven, it was still sunny: the sun does not go down until after eight. We found a motel “near” the mountain (70 km away) in Twizel, where we found out that the little mountain-gateway town was booked full and we could only get a room in the backpacker’s lodge. We thought we’d have it to ourselves but now we’re sharing with 3 French people who don’t speak English very well at all. Oh well, it’s cheap, and apparently we can buy a wireless internet card for a few dollars. If you’re reading this, the wireless internet thing worked out.
A few observations on New Zealand. The roads are pretty good, and there isn’t much traffic. The number of dead animals on the road is therefore stunning. We haven’t seen a single furry creature alive but we’ve seen tens if not hundreds of flat ones in the middle of the road. On the other hand: there are very many birds of prey around here! New Zealanders have shopping malls that are open on Sunday as we fortunately found out yesterday. On average, they (the New-Zealanders, not the malls 😉 ) are quite fat, plainly dressed and not very interesting to look at. Nice, though. The lady in our motel said they never even lock their houses or cars around here. New Zealanders drinks lots of coffee, lots. There are Starbucks coffee shops everywhere and many wannabes/lookalikes/rip-offs.