2017 New Zealand Trip - Part 8
Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook
We arrived in Lake Tekapo and the sun was still shining with clear blue skies.
287 km (178 miles), 3.5 hours excluding the stop at the Moeraki Boulders, via a surprisingly large town of Oamaru on State Highway 1.
At last, some reflections. (More to Come).
The most famous sight at Lake Tekapo is the Church of the Good Shepherd. I had expected it to be somewhere around the lake but, in fact, it was within 2 minutes walk of the town centre. Additionally, it was swamped in Chinese Tourists who poured out of coaches. My photos don't do it justice as we left with 5 minutes to find more solitary locations.
Incidentally, we dined that evening in a good Chinese Restaurant, full of Chinese!
Nearby there is the Mount John Observatory where one can book Stargazing Tours, unfortunately, the early tours were fully booked except one at 2am which we decided was too late for us. Instead we opted for the Cowan's Observatory Tour which was more local.
We were driven by coach to the nearby observatory where it was pitch black. There were 2 separate telescopes set up and the guide drew our attention to many many stars and constellations including the Southern Cross and Orion's Belt. It was quite interesting when discussing the stars which made up the Signs of the Zodiac but otherwise it went a bit over our heads.
Another person staying in our B&B managed to get on the Mount John Twilight Tour, there was 1 place available when he booked. He said it was much better than our tour. It is actually worth doing the Stargazing Tours run by Earth and Sky but book well in advance for the Mount John Observatory Tour.
The next day, we drove up to Mount John Observatory and the views were spectacular.
After a coffee, we set off towards Mount Cook and the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre (104 km, 64 miles away) and stunning views over Lake Pukaki. (This is where they sited Lake-town in The Hobbit film directed by Peter Jackson).
Mount Cook and Lake Pukaku
We returned to Lake Tekapo via a small town called Twizel for fuel. The fuel pumps at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre were not working. On the South Island, fuel stations are few and far between so we always filled up before leaving the town where we were staying or at the next fuel station.
Twizel - the region’s main country town - appeared in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy as the location for the Pelennor Fields.
The next morning we left Lake Tekapo with the sun still shining.