Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Christchurch (61) to Mount Cook (6) via Ashburton Day 2

Before we set out on our trip we had a discussion about the pros's and con's of going to Mount Cook at all. It is located, for want of a better description, down a five hour cul de saq. That is to say that it doesn't fit neatly into any round trip, and was therefore out of our way.

It was the start of the trip and the energy levels and enthusiasm were high. It also featured high on the AA 101 things to do in New Zealand list and that swayed us all in it's favour. You will be hearing a lot about the AA "101 List" in the next few posts as it influenced our itinerary quite substantially, that and a very energetic sibling who read a Rough Guide without necessarily consulting the accompanying map, but more on that later!

So to make it easier for me I am going to put a number in brackets beside the title of the post so people will know were it fits into what the Kiwi's consider the best things to do in NZ. So as you have probably deducted by now Christchurch is in sixty first place and Mount Cook is in sixth. Ashburton didn't feature as there is obviously not enough knitters voting. You can read more about Sharon's exploits in Ashburton here.

We headed out to the airport the day in question and collected our camper van. Let me start by saying that none of us are the "roughing it" kind and were determined therefore to do the journey in as much luxury as possible. We therefore hired the biggest camper van they had, it was a six berth camper van built for comfort not for speed. The comfort bit is debatable also but relative to all the other camper vans we saw this did not make one feel inadequate! Here's a pic of our not so humble abode.

It might have been a five hour cul de saq, but it was one of the best road trips of our lives without exception. The scenery was amazing and it was our first taste of what was to come. You literally want to stop and take pics every few minutes as the scenery is wonderful everywhere you look. You just can't however or you would never be able to keep to any itinerary.

The pic of the camper van above is taken at the first place we stopped after Ashburton a place called Lake Tekapo (25), that's right number 25 on the 101 list. Here's a few pics.

We had travelled almost four hours at this stage and the light was fading fast, we therefore rushed the experience and decided to head back the next day. The pic above is taken from our second visit. We had to retrace our steps by about 200km just to have something to eat by the lake the next day, but believe me it was worth it. If we had to do the trip again I would plan on staying at the lake for a day.
The lakes in New Zealand and especially in the south island are really blue due to the glacier activity. The Lonely Planet explains as follows:
"The blazing turquoise colour of Lake Tekapo, a character it shares with other regional bodies of water such as Lake Pukaki, is due to "rock flour" (sediment) in the water. This so called flour was created when the lake's basin was gouged out by a stoney bottomed glaciers moving accross the lands surface, with the rock on rock action grinding out fine particles that ended up being suspended in the glacial melt waters. This sediment gives the water a milky quality and refracts the sunlight beaming down, hence the brilliant colour"
There are three lakes that run almost parallel in the Mackenzie Basin, Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. Here's a pic taken of Lake Pukaki with a very indistinguishable Mount Cook in the background, but trust me it's there!

We stayed that night in our first camper van site, the Glentanner Park Centre, about 15 minutes drive from Mount Cook on Route 80. We settled down for the night in the shadow of Mount Cook only to awake to some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. But alas, thus ends my post, Mount Cook itself is for another day, you'll have to return. Trust me it will be worth it!


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