Sunrise on the Hooker

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sunrise-on-the-hooker

My wife and I were very excited about our first day in New Zealand.  Not only were we in this exotic country, with all kinds of new experiences in front of us, but we were doing the entire trip in a camper-van (okay, only I was really excited about this). There is something about this mode of transportation that is freeing to me—setting out on the open road in search of adventure.

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Our mobile bedroom and kitchen.

We rented a modified 1997 Toyota Estima that had a mostly wooden riser built into the back with a mattress on top of hinged panels that allowed for storage space below and a small gas grill that would attach to the side of the vehicle for cooking. It was a cheap and fuel-efficient way to make our way around the country on our own terms. However, the cramped living conditions took some getting used too. Still, other than the first night being a little on the cold side, it was a great way to explore this great country. We initially thought about getting a bigger RV, but as I am a thrifty traveler I opted for the cheaper and more fuel efficient rental. I was glad I did as the bigger campers looked hard to navigate on the often curvy roads and small, single lane bridges. At times, both directions of traffic have to share a one-lane bridge and there’s a system for how drivers must give-way to one another. It took some getting used too and we came across them daily while on the South Island.

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My wife sits by Hooker Lake, a glacier fed lake, taking in the view of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.

I set our itinerary for the first full day to include an early start on the Hooker Valley Track up to Hooker Lake to take in the views of Mt. Cook standing high above. We arrived at the White Horse Hill Campground late the night before, after the sun had already set. While we had great views of the night sky, the mountainous landscape had been shrouded in relative darkness. We awoke to the stunning pre-dawn view (above) of the valley we had traversed the night before and set out on our journey to the lake.

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