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Full Circle

Day 149: Mount Cook

Mount Cook, New Zealand 
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The Mount Cook massif - highest point in Australasia.
Michael Palin - Full CircleWhile I am complaining about being kept awake by the Sun newspaper, Basil claims he's still being kept awake by the bull-ant bites he sustained in Alice Springs. I think all of us could do with more sleeping and less staying awake, but we still have a few hundred miles to go before we reach the end of this side of the Pacific and can take a breather before turning east and north.

After three hours' driving the great tented ridge of the Mount Cook blocks our way. The road leads as far as the front door of the magnificently situated Hermitage Hotel, and no further.

No sooner have we arrived than we are told that, because of bad weather approaching from the west, we must leave immediately if we want to fly up onto the nearby Tasman glacier. Cold weather gear is provided for us by the manager of the hotel and, as we have no rooms yet, we scramble into it right there in the car park.

Within half an hour we have been helicoptered up eight thousand feet onto the silent white world of the Tasman glacier. The views are enormous. Buttresses of rock rise sheer above us, a great ice dome capping one of them. Mount Cook, a majestic pyramid of ash-grey rock, its perfect Paramount Films peak reduced by a massive landslip four years ago, looms close by. At one point two tiny figures on skis appear round the ice dome, moving tentatively towards us. Much speculation that these might be Sun reporters.
Mount Cook, New Zealand 
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Southern Alps. Helicopter ride to the Tasman Glacier.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 149
  • Country/sea: New Zealand
  • Place: Mount Cook
  • Book page no: 206

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