The Aoraki Mount Cook mountain range is home to a number of glaciers and we have had a chance to see three of them in the last 24 hours. We had a short walk to view the end of the Tasman Glacier last evening and today had a 10km tramp up to the end of the Hooker Glacier which also afforded good views of the Mueller Glacier.
The scale of these glaciers is hard to comprehend until you get close to them. The glacier ends are many hundreds of feet high, and not always very pretty. Certainly the lower sections of all these glaciers are covered in grey boulders and scree (what they call surface moraine) making it hard sometimes to know whether you were looking at scree or ice.
It was also interesting to understand the rate at which these glaciers are currently retreating. The Tasman Glacier is estimated to be losing 0.5% of its total volume each year and over the last 100 years each of these glaciers have reduced significantly, and the lakes at their bases increased. Indeed, some of the lakes scarcely existed even 25 years ago.
We had intended a more adventurous walk to above the Mueller Glacier but we woke this morning to some blustery winds, reaching up to 80km/hour and drifting low cloud so we were advised to keep to the lower ground. It was certainly windy all day and Aoraki Mount Cook remained cloaked in cloud throughout. But there was enough sunshine to take a few photographs.