Mount Cook and the "perfect" campsite

our experience camping near Mount Cook in New Zealand was filled with stunning views and surprises.

I blame Pinterest, really.

when my friend and I were plotting our New Zealand itinerary, a moment happened. the subject of camping came up and we decided "yes let's do it!" and "we can take some of those cute photos you see on Pinterest of feet and mountain views through open tent doors!"

if you've ever followed any kind of outdoorsy/ travel/ mountain/ forest vibe board I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

so we booked our campsites near Mount Cook. after a morning hike near Lake Tekapo, we drove all afternoon towards the south. the moment we spotted Mount Cook out the window, my friend and I went into photo frenzy mode. our husbands kindly obliged us by pulling over for photo ops. several times. and the mountain loomed closer and closer.

the sun was already slanting by the time we reached Glentanner Park. we checked in and discovered that camping here meant setting up wherever you liked in a large field area near the lodge. we drove around for at least 20 minutes, trying to scope out where the best views would be.

we finally settled on a spot and got the camp set up. the light was pretty harsh, but I took a few test shots anyway, searching for that Pinterest-perfect angle. my hopes were for some gorgeous early morning light. we went to the lodge to make dinner and charge our camera batteries, then I scoped out a few spots for shooting the stars later that night.

as the sun went down, the light turned magical. I shot a few photos of the area around our campsite and waited for darkness to fall. Husband and I tried our hands at astrophotography, then turned in for the night. I was so excited for the next day - we planned to hike the stunning Hooker Valley Track.

if you've read this post about what went wrong on our New Zealand travels, you may be able to guess the end of this story. our plans were ruined by three words I hope to never hear again: gale force winds. it turns out that camping in an open field, no matter how gorgeous the view may be, results in snapped tent poles and zero sleep when the winds are rushing down off the mountain and a rainstorm is on the way.

we cut our stay short thanks to the rain and forecast for freezing temperatures [and continued winds.] I never did get my Pinterest-perfect shot, but these two phone photos taken shortly before dawn as we frantically dismantled our tent and packed up to avoid being soaked probably sum up our Mount Cook camping experience best.

I wish I had more to say about Mount Cook, but our campsite was the closest we ever got to it. someday I'd love to go back. I want to hike the Hooker Valley Track and get a better look at New Zealand's highest peak. but I think on my next visit... I'll skip the tent and just stay in one of the cabins.

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