Leaving the South Island

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December 15th 2015
Published: January 2nd 2016
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Leaving the Wizard's Glen behind we started the long road back towards Queenstown. The unsealed section seemed to go on twice as far as it had when we came out. Then the road back to Queenstown was fun but hard, mainly because the local white-van-man behind me was not at all happy that I was taking the tight windy road at only a few kilometres per hour above the speed limit.

Beyond Queenstown we headed onwards towards Lake Tekapo. Up to this point we had seen so much of the stunning beauty that the South Island brings forth in abundance that we thought there couldn't be any more surprises... we were wrong! Our road led us through an agricultural area before gently lifting upwards. Before long we were quite high and then suddenly below us opened up the most spectacular sight we had seen on the South Island. We were driving past Lake Pukaki, a deep rich, almost luminous turquoise blue expanse. Beyond, in the background loomed row upon row of majestic snow-capped mountains gleaming in the bright sunshine. We stopped and found ourselves on a very windy hillside - it was all we could do to not get blown over. The road went past this vista for at least half an hour.

Beyond Lake Pukaki we were getting tired and the scenery wasn't so grand. It was still another hour to Lake Tekapo, our destination for the evening. The campsite at Tekapo was very disappointing as it's facilities were no where near sufficient for the number of people on site and the views over the lake were disappointing. It was freezing cold so everyone wanted to huddle up in the kitchens. This was definitely not the best time for a German woman to decide to teach her two six year old children to cook!

In the morning we set off to see the highlights of the local area before continuing our drive. The first was the beautiful stone-built Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. I found myself feeling sorry for the vicar who would have to compete for interest with the picture window behind him when giving a sermon. Set around with wild lupines and with the Mt Cook Range in the background this was a stunning place of worship.

The other local feature is a private road up to the Mt John Observatory. Mt John dominates the skyline over Lake Tekapo. At the top are half a dozen domes housing astronomical telescopes. It is an incredible place to study the skies, which they claim are some of the clearest in the world. We stood in the car park in gale-force winds, admiring the view of lakes and mountains below us before retreating to the café for good coffee and cake. On each of the tables was a book of stunning photos taken at the observatory. For a few minutes I was feeling nostalgic for my university days but that soon faded.

We moved on from the observatory and spent the rest of the afternoon driving. Sadly the road we were on was quite dull, despite us taking the slightly longer "scenic route". We eventually pulled into Akaroa, a small pretty town just to the South of Christchurch. Here we found another lousy campsite and settled in for the night. As the sun went down we were treated to a dazzling display of light over the harbour.

We planned to go down to the harbour next morning but sadly I woke with a migraine which knocked me out for the rest of the day. Lindsey had to pack up and drive us back to Christchurch whilst I felt miserable. In Christchurch we had booked another AirBnB property which turned out to be lovely but I spent my time either in bed or packing so couldn't make the most of it. Next morning we took the car back to the airport and caught the short flight to the Auckland. Our time on the South Island had come to an end but we still had lots more of New Zealand to explore.

Additional photos below
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25th February 2016
Good Shepherd Church, Tekapo

love the guys with adventure mindset
Tekapo has many wonderful things to see

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