Before our trip to New Zealand, I had read numerous blogs and articles about stargazing at Mount Cook. Apparently, it’s one of the best places in
New Zealand the world to get a stunning views of the Milky Way (here’s a light pollution map for those interested).
Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook Drive
This was our drive into Mount Cook (Lake Tasman) from Lake Pukaki. It went from bright and sunny to cold and wet.
On our drive to Mount Cook, stargazing was the only thing on my mind. So, you can pretty much imagine my pain when it didn’t stop raining the whole day while we were at Mount Cook National Park. It was grim and cold with little or no chance of clearing up for at least the next few days. So, I accepted my fate and decided to put away my tripod with no hope or intention of shooting the stars that night.
The Milky Way From Mount Cook
That evening after dinner we decided to return to our room, watch some TV, and get ready to leave early the next morning. I could still hear the rain drops on the roof. So, we continued to mindlessly watch TV for an hour before I decided to look outside. Could I see a single star?
Yes, I could see not one but a a billion! To my surprise, the clouds had almost cleared up revealing a sky filed with stars, glittering away. I quickly pulled out my gear, put on my slippers, and ran out into the freezing cold in my shorts, and t-shirt. It was still drizzling slightly, but I could see the Milky Way with my naked eyes! I remember seeing the Milky Way in Palawan, but that was nothing compared to what I witnessed that night at Mt Cook.
As I stood there in the freezing cold getting wet, I asked myself – is it worth it? I looked up, saw my third shooting star for the night and said to myself, hell yeah! It was totally worth it.