Land of the shrinking mountain

by Jan Ligthart

DUNEDIN, 16 January 2014 - New Zealand, land of the extremes. But a little less extreme than it used to be. Aoraki better known as Mount Cook, is the tallest mountain in the land of the long white cloud. But not as tall as it was. Scientists found out that Mt Cook has actually shrunk. Officially it is 3,754m high. But due to erosion the newest measurements show that the mountain has lost 30 meters and is now 3,724m high.

The scientists of the University of Otago point out that the loss of height is not the result of climate change. Rather, it is the consequence of the collapse of ice and rocks that happened on top of Mt Cook in 1991. "As a result the ice cap became subject to erosion over those past 20 years."

However, it still is New Zealand's tallest peak, ahead of Mount Tasman at 3,497m.