Today we travelled from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. We were a bit worried as the day started out heavily overcast, with fog all over the coastal plains, as well as running up the mountains as we headed up to Lake Tekapo. It was wonderful to find that around midday, as we reached the Mackenzie basin and Lake Tekapo, the clouds cleared and we had wonderful blue sky and a perfect view of the lake.
When we arrived we were both amazed at the colour of the lake, and drove around to find a spot we could walk in to the water. We actually found a few people swimming, which we though was pretty brave, but the water was not as cold as we expected. No we didn’t hire or buy a dog in NZ, that belongs to someone else.
Since we couldn’t book in to the hotel this early we drove up Mount John to the observatory. This was a narrow, one lane, road to the top but not to difficult. When we reached the top, we found some wonderful views, along with the observatory building themselves. Some of the people had walked up from the town, which looked like a long a wearisome trek. Not living in a country that has snow capped mountains I was excited to see that despite the hot summer, some of the mountains had a covering of snow. There are dusk and twighlight guided tours from the town up to the observatory, which include getting access to one of the telescopes to view the sky.
After trekking around the top, we headed back in to the town to book in to the hotel. We then took our time and wandered around the town, and over to a small church set just above the lake. This is the much photographed Church of the Good Shepherd and was crowded with tourist trying to get an image. I joined in the crowd, but decided to come back here in the morning to get some images in dawn light. After our walk we stopped in at the local watering hole Mackenzies Bar & Grill where we stayed for dinner as well. Our thanks to the wonderful staff at Mackenzies.
The next morning I tried from some nice images of dawn, but it seems the mountains here start the day out with cloud cover which hangs around until midday. I have a few nice images, but I will have to do a little work on them before posting them online. While I was down on the lakes shore I took a few images of the cairns that people have made from the lakes stones. These are all over the lake shore, and some are quite amazing balanced.
The Mackenzie basin was first discovered by european settlers when sheep stealer James Mackenzie, and his collie dog Friday, hearded his stolen flock inland to hide them from authorities. The basin has since been used for sheep farms, and on the shores of Lake Tekapo there is a broze statue to honour the working collie dogs used to herd the flocks. The lake itself is now used to generate hydro electricity and is a number of meters higher than it original level.
Next we are on our way to Queenstown. We will most likely take a few side trips and try and see Aoraki (Mt Cook) and Lake Wanaka as well.