Of all the spectacular views of New Zealand's highest mountain peak, this one from Peter's Lookout is perhaps the most popular. Standing at 3,724m (12,218 ft) and seen here from a distance of around 50km, Aoraki-Mount Cook sits majestically at the head of Lake Pukaki, itself serene and calm at the first light of day.
There are many days when the mountain is cloaked in thick clouds at sunrise and many others when the sky is totally clear and very bright. Mornings such as this one, with high clouds to diffuse the sunrise light and provide some colour, are relatively few and far between. As the sun rises above the horizon, the upper faces of Mount Cook and the surrounding peaks begin to light up in gradual pale hues of pink, creating a beautiful contrast between the snow-capped slopes and the tranquil blue colour of the lake, still in shadow. It is a magnificent sight when it works.
Peter's Lookout is easily accessed from SH80, the one and only road to Mount Cook Village. In recent years additional roadside pull-outs have been created, affording us similar mountain views but with differing surroundings, foregrounds and perspectives. This image was made in winter when the snow line was close to its lowest. I opted to leave the foreground largely in silhouette to ensure that the viewer's path was guided by the defined outline of the lake shore and into the highlight of the composition - Mount Cook illuminated in the dawn light.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor