Roadtrips and Rainbows


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Lake Pukaki
July 7th 2018
Published: July 7th 2018
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So we're in Queenstown now and before our memories of Tekapo get swamped by the majesty of Queenstown, I want to reflect further on our time in and around Lake Tekapo. I was tired last night and fear that I didn't convey the depth of my love for Tekapo. I might even have been pronouncing it wrong. I was pronouncing it Tee-Car-Po but the post office lady, the waiters and the pharmacy attendant in Cromwell pronounce it Teh-Kah-Po. But, with all our walking and with feeling natures call half way through our first hike - we prefer to pronounce it Tay-Ka-Poo. Get it? Take a Poo?

And hike might be too strong of a word. There's no special hiking boots or walking poles. We don't prepare and we don't take a compass. I prefer to call it Rambling. Walking in nature for pleasure. And it was such a pleasure. So isolated, so remote and just the four of us. All on our own but so present in that world and so present in that place. Thank you Tekapo.

Mother nature flexed her muscles while we slept last night. Well, while 3 of us slept. The heavy rain and the wind off the lake were so ferocious that it sounded like the roof was going to be ripped off our cabin. I heard it, pulled up my covers and rolled over. Jules heard it and thought we were all going to be dragged out of our beds Wizard of Oz style. We survived but the table and chairs on our front porch weren't so lucky and were blown clean off the deck.

With another sleep-in and a quick pack we were on the road. As we drive further south, the choice of radio station becomes ever more limited. Jules was loving Tahu FM in Tekapo with it's obsession with the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack and Rick Astley but as we headed further south the reception got worse and worse. There were kms of no signal at all and when we got a signal it was Brian FM. Brian? While the name sounds pretty dodgy, the tunes were roadtrip gold - Adele's "Someone Like You" got the whole car singing out loud and "C'mon Eileen" got the front seats singing.

The scenery is almost a health hazard. The screams of "Sheep!" were replaced with "Look at THAT!" as the snow capped peaks dominated every horizon. These walls of rock are truly intimidating. The highway (which is a pleasure to drive) is straddled by grassy fields full of sheep, cows and deer. So flat until they aren't anymore. The walls of mountain seem to abruptly jut out of the plains and fill our view on 3 sides. To top it off we get a rainbow tracking us as we skirt Lake Pukaki. Lake Pukaki makes Tekapo look like a goldfish pond and hard to ignore. We don't stop but many do to photograph this grand lake and it's surrounding alpine splendour. Jules and Deaks take photos from the car as we cruise past at 100km/h.

The land begins to change as we slowly ascend. Open grassy plains start to clutter with skoda sized granite rocks and bigger rocky outcrops. The mountains close in and the road squeezes between a hallway of rock. Our ears pop as we reach the Lindis Summit. These roads are windy and in the shaded corridors, covered in ice/grit. This jerk in a silver Landcruiser overtakes us on the windiest road and sprays our windscreen with ice grit as he ducks back into the lefthand lane. He stays in front of us for the next 30 kms. What an asshole!

Advertising works! We heard an add on Brian FM for a Subway lamb wrap and guess what we had for lunch in Cromwell? That's right, Lamb! Not baaaaad!

We fill up in Cromwell. Unleaded Fuel is $2.40 / litre and pixie caramels are your standard $1.89. The drive from Cromwell to Queenstown is quicker than it looks on the map. Our AirBNB isn't ready until 3 pm and we stroll around town while we wait to check-in. It is so crowded here. We saw more people on a zebra crossing than we saw in the 2 days in Tekapo. There's a reason for the crowds. This place is stunning! And with such big crowds, we shouldn't be surprised to see Peter Greste at Ferburger and bump into one of the bridesmaids from Andrew and Jess's wedding (MIlly) at the MacDonalds toilets. Don't worry, we didn't eat there. We're above that!

Hot Chocolates, a Chai Latte and a craft beer by the harbour and we walk up the steep hills behind the town centre to our AirBNB. Pete (our host) is there to greet us and he warmly welcomes us with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek for Jules. Really friendly bloke and he gives us a few tips for non-snow related options.

Our AirBNB delivers above expectation. It's a freshly renovated apartment with all the mod-cons and a view of Queenstown that is truly spectacular!

The kids settle in for a bit of Netflix and Jules and I discuss our snow plans for the next 4 days. We drive down to town, hire our gear, buy our lift passes and a BBQ chicken. Back to the apartment for a bit of chook. garlic bread and steamed vegies. We are close to the town centre and as I type my blog a bunch of drunk English tourists sing like soccer hooligans as they pass our window. The kids are in bed, Jules is on the couch wrapped in rugs and blankets and I've had a few NZPAs (New Zealand Pale Ales). Tasty little number.

We hit the slopes tomorrow and need to be waiting for the shuttle at 8.30 am. Reports of 15 cms of fresh snow last night at The Remarkables while the storm we copped at Tekapo seems to have closed Coronet Peaks today. We'll wake to see what tomorrow brings.

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Tot: 3.154s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0388s; 3; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb