Pukaki Perfection

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July 13th 2018
Published: July 13th 2018
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It's going to be a day on the road today. Four hours from Twizel to Christchurch. An early highlight for a family from Queensland was the frozen windscreen and windows on the car when we got up this morning. It was still about 1 degree at 10 am checkout and I fortunately saw our neighbour tipping the kettle over his frozen windscreen and followed suit.

The conditions last night couldn't be more perfect for stargazing. I braved the cold at about 10pm and while the sky was full of stars and the milky way was visible - it was probably on a par with a Maleny camp sky. But colder than Maleny and hard to stay out there too long on my own.

Being so impressed with Lake Pukaki on the way down to Queenstown, I was planning to stop for some photos. I underestimated the draw of this majestic vista. We pulled the car over three times to get out for a look and a photo or ten. The weather is once again spectacular and no doubt it would be awesome on the slopes today. The radio DJ claimed to have never seen the Southern Alps so clearly.

We all but escape the magnetic power of Lake Pukaki when I spot a pond in a roadside campground. A quick bit of All Wheel Driving and we're throwing rocks at a frozen pond again. Frozen ponds are so much fun! We can't be the only devotees to the pleasure of the frozen pond as rocks within 20 metres of the pond are scarce. Fortunately with a solid surface, every rock is an A grade skimmer!

We drag the kids back into the car and leave the amazing Southern Alps behind us. The windy roads and avoiding the morning sun in her face has Milla feeling queezy today. Hang in there darling, look out the window, please don't vomit in the hire car! Geraldine is the halfway point and we make it by 12 on the dot. We're all low on fuel, including the Rav4 and we pull into the Z servo. And it is a true servo - there's a wee lass at the bowser and she fills our tank. There's a bit of ye olde service in NZ. Service station attendants and grocery baggers give NZ a nostalgic tint. Quaint! It's similar enough to be comfortable and different enough to be interesting.

We fuel our bellies in the coolest cafe I've seen in years. The Running Duck has a quirky menu for of comfort food and a nostalgic family kitchen decor. It's a burger place - Lambshank Redemption, The Houluminati, Motherclucker etc - but it also serves Cherrios and T sauce, bacon buttie and fairy bread. We all opt for the comfort food, classic milkshakes and a spicy chai.

After a quick stroll up and down the high street we are back on the road. The homestretch was quicker than expected and we had time for a visit to Cookie Time factory outlet. These are good cookies and we buy too many for four people.

Our hotel is really cool. It's located just behind the Christchurch Cathedral and simple but funky. It's outer wall is covered in a street art mural like a lot of the city and it has a tram line that runs through an arcade beneath the hotel. It's 7 years since the earthquake but the city is still half derelict or under construction.

Safely checked in and I head to the airport to drop the Rav 4 home. Uber is supposed to work but doesn't. There are "No Cars Available" and I've already left the airport proper and choose the purple line bus that I saw went into the city. A 20 minute drive is stretched to a 45 minute bus ride but I get to have a look around the city. The bus ride cuts through University of Canterbury and another green space (Hagley Park) west of the CBD. The Avon River runs thorugh Hagley Park and I'm keen to explore this with the fam tomorrow. Christchurch already feels like a really leafy city and perfect for exploring on foot.

Christchurch Cathedral is still out of action. As too are many blocks surrounding it. Fortunately for us the abandoned space of Cathedral Square has Food Truck Friday and we virtually have a world of food choices delivered to our door. All the food is fresh and delicious and relatively inexpensive for dinner "out". I grab another craft brew tallie that I haven't tried and we retire for a bit of Bear Grylls and Stephen Fry. They are having a wild weekend in the Austrian Mountain ranges and their struggles with the snowy terrain has a certain resonance.

Emerson's 1812 Pale Ale is another fine drop.

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