Sunday, November 02, 2008


It was only two nights - but I escaped the city! I'm back now from holiday and am about to describe it. My friend J. and I left Christchurch early-ish on Thursday morning and drove to Tekapo, where we were staying in this little cabin on the lakefront:

Lake Tekapo is home to the tiny and beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd. The lake was formed by a glacier so is a beautiful, almost turquoise colour, with mountains framing it.
The weather was good on Thursday, so we took the opportunity to go to Mount Cook National Park, leaving Tekapo almost as soon as we arrived. Mount Cook, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, is about an hour and a half's drive from Tekapo, and is best seen when not covered in cloud, so if possible, good weather is a big plus when visiting. On the way to Mount Cook you drive past and around Lake Pukaki, another glacier lake with even a more brilliant blue than Tekapo, and surrounded by bigger mountains and forests. This photo was taken on the day we drove to Mount Cook:
And this was taken the next day, when we drove past the lake again on our way to somewhere else. It seemed like every time we saw the lake it had changed colour slightly.
Although the weather was amazing for most of the drive, Mount Cook National Park was a bit more blustery. We went up the Hooker Valley track anyway. I love this country; it's rocky and big and dramatic. This is me at one point on it:
The swingbridge! This is always fun but I promise it is even more of an experience when the wind is strong and gusty. It hangs maybe 33 feet above the Mueller glacier river, which was crashing away below as we crossed:
Unfortunately we didn't get quite as far up the Hooker Valley as I would have liked, partly because of the worsening weather, so we didn't quite get around the corner that gives you a sudden view of Mt Cook - but it was enough to be there in the mountains in the fresh air with absolutely no control over your hairstyle.
Driving between different spots we stopped often and took lots of photos. This is the entrance to the Irishman Creek sheep station which may give Stacy a sense of déjà vu - a photo I took of this hut years ago was one of our Halfway Down the Stairs covers:
I also loved these fields... although not so much the reminder that the election is coming!
On Friday we visited the Clay Cliffs, near Omarama. The nice thing about this: it's on private property, accessed by a gravel road, so it's not quite so popular a destination as the Church of the Good Shepherd and other spots in the Mackenzie Country, and you're not always competing with busloads of tourists for photos (for, as we all know, I have a right to be taking photos but no one else does!). They're rather different from the standard diet of lakes and mountains when travelling in this area and it feels a little like you're walking into a mini-canyon:

On our way back from the Clay Cliffs, we took a turn-off to Lake Ohau. This is another spot that isn't quite so busy, tourist-wise, and I can't quite understand why, because it's beautiful. Maybe it's partly that we weren't expecting something quite so stunning, but we ended up sitting on the beach at Ohau for about an hour, enjoying the wind, the waves, the mountains. I realise that some of these lakes don't look all that different in the photos but this certainly felt different:

So those are the different places we visited. We also did a fair bit of reading or just relaxing on the Tekapo lakefront. One of the cool things about the place we stayed is the incredibly friendly wildlife. There were several families of bunnies that hung out fearlessly by our cabin, and some very fat and well-fed sparrows that would hop almost right up to you in the hope of food. We ate out... the first night at Pepe's, one of my favourite pizza/pasta restaurants, and the second at a Japanese restaurant, where I had delicious local salmon (there are salmon farms in the canals around this area). On Saturday we left pretty early, because I started my new summer job in the evening, and there was really nothing we wanted to do that would fit in before we had to leave. But I could happily and easily have spent a week there. I've started having fantasies about going and living in a tiny country house overlooking a lake with a big window and a desk, and just sitting there and writing books. Of course, in this dreamworld there's no such thing as money!


pilgrimchick said...

That looks like an amazing trip--what an incredible landscape (we have nothing like that out here, save mountains, but they are far different and none are close to water). I have to voice agreement on that election sign, though.

~Virginia~ said...

okay. do you ever go ANYWHERE that isn't completely gorgeous?! next time see if you can pick a location that won't have me writhing with envy. :)