We drove from Timaru up towards Lake Tekapo. For much of this part of the journey, the land was flat – good productive land, by the look of it, with irrigation going full blast. Gradually we moved up to higher country. We had been told that the dense high cloud that was with us all the way was often gone after going through Burke’s Pass but alas, this was not the case, and the sky remained quite leaden. Despite this, Lake Tekapo suddenly appeared and this was our view of it from the first roadside viewpoint.
It wasn’t long before Pip was out and into a state of deep contemplation.
We discovered a number of cairns, carefully balanced stones, at the side of the lake. I can’t decide whether this is art or environmental vandalism. But they look quite good.
The Tekapo township has a slightly depressed look and feel, perhaps understandably with the lack of tourist numbers. So we pushed on a few km to Lake Pukaki, where more piles of stones had been carefully set up.
This lake reminds me a little of many Scottish lochs that we saw, at least with having the same colours, even though they may not have the same type of gravel. The sky remained steadfastly grey, so still reminding us of Scotland, there, as well…
We travelled on to Twizel, an original hydro town now full of holiday houses, where we stayed the night in the superb Heartland Lodge. By dinner time the sky had miraculously brightened, so after dinner (Canterbury Lamb loin, what else? with a glass of Rockburn Pinot Noir) we retraced our steps to Lake Pukaki, just 10 minutes back up the road, where we were delighted to find that the clouds had lifted enough so that Aoraki Mt Cook was visible. The first shot below shows more or less how it appeared to the naked eye, with the following two shots by courtesy of my telephoto lens, showing a lot more detail of the sun setting on the high peaks. A great sight to end the day.
But the day wasn’t quite ended. Oh, no. Twizel is within the “dark sky” region of the country and so multitudinous stars are very visible. So at 2am, yes, 2am, I was awoken and persuaded that I should go outside and try to photograph them. Not a total success as I did not have my camera tripod with me and so had to rely on makeshift platforms in the garden. Probably I should have made much longer exposure times, but something of the effect has been captured and the astronomically knowledgeable among you might be able to see the Southern Cross.