The Alps to Ocean (A2O) is a route from Aoraki/Mt Cook (the Southern Alps) to Oamaru (the Pacific Ocean) and at just 301kms, is suitable for all ages.
Aoraki represents the most sacred of ancestors, from whom Ngai Tahu descend and who provides identity, solidarity and purpose. However, spending the night at the National Park camp site amongst the tent city … we were the only native Maori or NZ Pakeha to be found. The truest sense of identity and solidarity you could ever get. The sound of hammering in tent pegs frequently finding rock just beneath the turf was the common language.
The 70,111 hectare park houses the longest glacier in NZ as well as our tallest peak at 3,754 metres and it was first summited in 1882. The mountain peak that is. The first women climbed it in 1910 wearing a skirt, leggings underneath and hob-nailed boots … they built them strong in them days!
Alpine scree weta are found living at altitudes of more than 3,100 metres in the park and they have an anti-freeze chemical in their bodies, which allows them to survive over the winter when everything around them is frozen solid.
We wish we did too, Taking our lite-sleeping bags was a great idea sitting in the comforts of ones home at the time. When the mercury fell below zero and even though the moon was at it’s fullest, we both woke up during darkness to put on just about all our clothes we were going to be carrying to help us with warmth as crunched up in the phetal position only gave partial hot spots.
Peter Dickson became the first person to mountain bike off Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1986. He carried his bike to the summit in pieces, assembled it, and rode it off. Wasn’t long before he got a puncture from a crampon and realised he had left behind a spare tube and repair kit. Yup!
Before we laid our bodies down onto the bedrolls once more – the last time was on the North Island Te Araroa; we had time to stretch the legs and wander the pathway to the first lake. As sun set, the sound of water flow below and the odd crack of ice from above had us excited that we were about to tick off another adventure opportunity to explore this place we call home.
A2O – here the Rurus go!