Tue 18 Nov: After getting up at some ridiculous hour in the morning and driving to Auckland airport, we found ourselves on a 06:10 flight to Christchurch. It was a bit cloudy over the North Island, but as we got further south the cloud lifted, and as we flew over Nelson we had a fantastic view of the Abel Tasman park and Marlborough Sounds.
We got into Christchurch on time at 07:30, picked up a hire car and headed further south. We stopped in Ashburton for breakfast and to pick up some camping gas and then carried on to Peel Forest. We did a couple of interesting walks here. First for a couple of hours through the forest. The second was much shorter and went to a totara tree with a circumference of over 9 metres.
We carried on driving to Lake Tekapo, which has great views across a turquoise lake towards the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. The colour of the lake is quite bizarre and is caused by ‘rock flour’ in the water. This is sediment that was created when the lake was gouged out by a stony-bottomed glacier moving across the land. The rocks ground out fine particles which are suspended in the glacial melt water, giving the water a milky quality which refracts the sunlight. Lake Pukaki has the same brilliant blue colour. Unfortunately photos don’t really do it justice. Or perhaps I’m not a very good photographer!There is a lovely little church at Lake Tekapo, the Church of the Good Shepherd, which was built in 1935.
We pressed on along the banks of Lake Pukaki and on to Mt. Cook, where we pitched our tent at the White Horse Hill Department of Conservation (DOC) campground just below Mount Sefton. That cost us NZD 5 per person. As you can see from the photo, the view from the tent was spectacular and it was a lovely clear evening. We cooked dinner and drank a bottle of red wine then turned in for the night. The stars were remarkably clear as there was no background light or light pollution for miles around. Overnight the wind picked up significantly and it did turn cold, but it was a beautiful place to stay and very convenient for the hiking trails around there.