Monday, 25 July 2011

Lake Tekapo and the Star Gazing 22nd – 24th July

We’ve swapped rooms from a twin to a double here at Lake Tekapo YHA. It’s always nicer to have our own room and just one big bed, rather than singles. There are unfortunately 2 downsides to our new room when compared to the last room we were in. It is on the outside of the building which actually means we have to walk through the garden to get to the bathroom and the heater is nowhere near as effective in this room as it was in the twin. We really wouldn’t mind so much, it just that it is below freezing outside our front door and if your not careful you could loose your toes on the way back through the ice and snow to the main part of the building. The positives, as ever, do outweigh the negatives though. The view over Lake Tekapo with it’s bright blue water set against the backdrop of the snow covered mountains all around us is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to be here. I think they call it life affirming.

The staff are also extremely friendly and generous. Inside the main building there are 2 wood burners, a heat pump and the offer of lots of blankets and free hot drinks, so all in all we’re having a ball as usual at the YHA.

Its mid afternoon on the 24th of July, just under a month before our flight departs from Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur. It feels really sad that time is passing by so quickly and we’re enjoying each day as if it was our first, still full of admiration and excitement with all the offerings New Zealand throws at us.

The 90 Km ride almost non-stop up hill from Geraldine to the Lake turned out to be too much for one day’s ride. We almost pushed on at 3pm when just outside of Fairlie 3 days ago. In the end though, we knew that we wouldn’t have arrived until after dark, so the decision was made to stop at a motel for the night and attack the last 35 Km the following morning. It was a wise decision as the weather was already freezing and we are still a little down on our fitness. The motel was really good though, as was the price of a jug of beer in the pub next door - $4.80 for around 2 pints! We stayed and had chip butties there.

The final stint of the up hill slog through Burke’s Pass to Lake Tekapo turned out to be a brilliant ride.

The air was still bitterly cold, but the sun actually managed to sneak through the cloud of the previous day and we arrived into Lake Tekapo with crisp, bright sunshine all around the valley. So lucky were we that the weather had held, that we decided to go up to the Observatory to do a bit of star gazing that night. We had to rug up well mind you - 2 hours on a mountain top is nippy! I was so pleased we made the trip though as we were given some really jaw dropping sights through the telescopes. I’ll never forget seeing Saturn so clearly. One of the astronomers was particularly passionate about his job, he also sounded like a character out of Star Trek which helped add even more to the experience. Our driver down from the mountain was hilarious; a Japanese guy who spoke ‘Ingrish’ fluently and regaled us with stories of how cute all the rabbits are in ‘New Zearond; but da Kiwi farmers dey done sink so, dey axererate indey cars!’
You can check out their website:

We have made the most of our time here and given how small the place is there is still much to do. Lots of walking, taking in the views, visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd, watching the ice skating or the families flying down the snow shoot in giant rubber rings by the lake. Today has been a complete rest day though, just eating, adding logs to the fire, watching DVD’s and catching up with the blog. So far we have watched ‘Spy Game’ and ‘Bucket List’ and I’m hanging out for ‘Harry Potter’ later, but we’ll see. We were meant to be heading across to Twizel today, but the weather looked so dodgy earlier that we decided to bunk up here for one more night. At least, we hope it’s only for one more night…

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