12 January 2011

Lake Tekapo & Aoraki/Mount Cook

Our campervan!
Well, we now have a campervan! It's very small (I can just about perform a pencil roll in it) and is our home for the next seven weeks. Pam has nicknamed the van 'Barney' because he matches the colour scheme of the children's television character.

Before now, the furthest either of us have driven is between Banchory and East Kilbride, so the prospect of driving all around New Zealand is quite daunting, but one that, so far, we've loved.

The beautiful Lake Tekapo
After we picked up Barney in Christchurch, we spent ages trying to get out of the city (just to practise getting lost, obviously) and ended up staying at a campsite nearby to get unpacked and get a rough idea what route we were going to take. The next morning - after a very comfortable first night in our mobile home - we decided to head about 150 kilometres inland for Lake Tekapo.

Church of the Good Shepherd
Following a well-timed recommendation, we stopped off at Geraldine where we paddled in the local swimming spots along the river and realised that New Zealand was fast becoming one of our favourite places on our trip. Everywhere we look is postcard-worthy!

With Pam as navigator and I as chauffeur, we hit the road again and had a true 'wow' moment when Lake Tekapo came into view. The water is turquoise blue - the sort of colour you usually only see painted! It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. The campsite we stayed at would surely be the most scenic we'd come across?

Our campsite at Aoraki/Mount Cook
Actually, it wasn't. The following day, we drove to the campsite at Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in Australasia. Well, it couldn't have been any more stunning with the clouds drifting around its snow-covered peak.

Mount Cook and the Tasman River
At around midnight, I had the misfortune of needing to go to the loo (a downside of our van is that it doesn't have one) meaning I had to make the walk in the dark to the public toilet. When I stepped out the van, I looked up and saw the darkest, clearest night sky I've ever seen. I woke Pam to come and see it and when she looked up, she immediately saw a huge shooting star... while I was looking elsewhere - typical!


By the bright blue water of Lake Tekapo


  1. The scenery is stunning - so glad you are loving it! Feel like I am travelling with you with all the photos and descriptions. xx

  2. We enjoyed lake Ohau. Clay Cliffs near Omarama is worth a short detour. Driving round the lakes on the way to Oamaru is good (Benmore, Aviemore) rather than just belting through to Oamaru. Elephant rocks near Duntroon are interesting, and coming in to Oamaru that way via Enfield is nice. Good camp site in Oamaru, and take time to walk around the botanic gardens - but it won't compare with Mount Cook! Ps you may see spectacular gliding near Omarama - best gliding in the world, they say! Blue Penguins in Oamaru are fun, but take advice about when to arrive. (ask at the i-site) We used to go to church in Weston (or sometimes at the early service in Enfield). If you happen to be there on a Sunday, please go and give our greetings to Nancy Parker the minister, and anyone else who remembers us! Comments continued on a new sheet! I am probably too late with all this - you are heading south already!

  3. Oamaru was where we lived, twice. So we have lots of good memories. Do you play golf? Try the North Otago course - lovely scenery! If you play there, please mention our name to the professional and pass on our best wishes. Take in the views over the town, from both the east and the south. Try the little walk around the headland, past the blue penguin colony. Totara estate was a good visit. Heading south, try the coast road to Kakanui, and the beach there - also the next beach south. Stop at Moeraki, see the boulders (walk up from the south, don't pay to park at the official place. Also the lighthouse, and you may see yellow eyed penguins there. A few interesting beaches on the way south to Dunedin, such as Karitane - we enjoyed just pottering down, rather than rushing!
    I suppose as we look back, what appeals is the people we met, and the little places we discovered and enjoyed. Lots to see and do in Dunedin and surrounding area - guess the guidebooks will show you. Enjoy the peninsula as well as the town - much less crowded! Tunnel beach worth a visit. Also Brighton, where our son lived for a few years.
    We only visited the Catlins once, for one night - buy it was great - we were very lucky with the weather, because it nearly always rains there! So look at the forecast, and if you are within reach and there is a good spell of weather, go for it. I think two days is enough (we got there one lunch time, and left the following evening - the guidebooks will point out the things to see, but the general scenery and atmosphere was stunning! Never made it to Invercargill, so can't advise - but watch the film "The world's fastest Indian" to get some local colour! Wish we were there!
    PS can you find a way to go up the Taieri gorge railway, and then cycle some of the Rail Trail? A bit complicated it you don't have bikes, and you have to get back to the van, but it is spectacular.


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