New Zealand | Lake Tekapo to Te Anau

I take what I said back about the holiday park we pulled into late last night. It’s still definitely more rustic than a Top 10 chain holiday park, but omg, look at the view.We had no idea the lake was THIS close when we drove in darkness to our campsite last night. It was supposed to rain today, I was expecting to wake up to another cold morning of drizzling rain, which, honestly, given the miraculous weather recovery on our wedding day, resulting in perfect weather, I could care less about the weather at this point. I’ve used up all my weather karma, and I’ll take what I can get.

Weather gods must be smiling on us though. I woke up just in time to catch the sunrise over Lake Tekapo. It was unintentional that I was up so early, but instead of going back to bed, I decided to grab the camera and take a walk along the lake shore and watch the sun rise. Not a soul could be found in sight, which surprised me. It left just me, the fighting ducks, the bluest of blue waters, and my thoughts; a meditative moment that one reads or writes about, but is never able to accurately describe that exact moment of solitude.

IMG_2499 IMG_2430 IMG_2440 IMG_2493I could have spent the day by the lake, lying on the rocky shores, staring at the cloud-speckled sky, but soon, the rest of the camp awoke, breaking the silence. I also started to get hungry, so back to the campervan I went to make breakfast and see if Sly was awake.

Despite getting up early enough to see the sunrise, we still ended up getting a late start, and were probably one of the last campervans to leave. We drove to an old historic church on top of a hill – a simple stone structure with an amazing view. We explored the area a bit more, stopping to take photos of the monument to collies statue, and to inspect the curious cherry-like trees (maybe they ARE cherry trees?)IMG_2501 IMG_2515 IMG_2518 IMG_2527 IMG_2530 P1010065 P1010068 P1010074Next stop on our journey was Mount Cook – a place we originally had not planned on visiting. I’m really glad we decided to make the detour. Mt. Cook was probably one of the most amazing places I have ever seen or visited.

I’ve seen zillions of mountains, but there was just something about this one — its massive size and close proximity made it seem within reach…like if you just went a little further…and then just a little more…and maybe a little more after that…you would be rewarded with a stunning view from the top.

Obviously, that is simplifying what is probably one of the most technical climbs in the world. A mountain that Edmund Hillary cut his teeth on before scaling Mt. Everest.IMG_2572 IMG_2568 IMG_2565We hiked around Hooker valley, and once again, just when we thought the view couldn’t get any better, we were rewarded with even more amazing-ness. Seriously beautiful stuff, and even better because hardly anyone was here.

This little piece of the world definitely holds something special. We could have stayed a lot longer, in fact, we have already talked about hitting it up on a return trip so we can camp at the amazing D.O.C campground, but we’ll see.IMG_2577 IMG_2581 IMG_2598 IMG_2614 P1010122 P1010118 P1010129As an aside, Sly and I have a custom of naming our cars whenever we are traveling. We were struggling with a name for our campervan, until we noticed something scrawled on the campervan’s key chain. Disturbingly enough, it read “Bok Choy Boy.” I would have gone with “Cabbage Boy” or maybe “Cabbage Baby,” but whatever. Weird.
IMG_2634Continuing on our road trip, we stopped to feed salmon, which sounds boring enough, but man, have you ever fed a tank of hungry salmon? Those guys were savages — jumping straight out of the water, baring their gummy lips, before clenching their fish teeth around the morsel of fish food, then flapping sideways into the water, creating a huge splash. The guys we were feeding weren’t even full sized, and it seemed as if we were feeding a bunch of hungry sharks. I thought it was going to be a stupid gimmick, which it partly is, they let you feed the fish for free in hopes you’ll buy some of their smoked salmon, or salmon sashimi (we did, of course).I don’t think I’ve ever talked so much about salmon my entire life, but man it was satisfying.

Afterwards, we stopped at a small town called Omarama to fill up on gas. Based on a recommendation by the gas attendant lady, we decided to try the burgers from the cafe next door (which was actually kind of posh…it had a wine bar and swank lounge chairs…) We both ordered a “cheeseburger” which actually was an  “1803” beef patty, ground extremely fine and mixed with onions and breadcrumbs (?) like meatloaf, then grilled and served with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo, slice of beet, and camembert cheese. I have no idea if they were trying to be gourmet with their fixings or if this is truly an NZ-style cheeseburger. Either way, it was delicious. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough room to finish all my delicious fries, because I was trying to save a little bit of room for hokey pokey ice cream.P1010159 P1010165 P1010179Bellies stuffed, we resisted falling comatose as we drove through spectacular vistas, rolling mountains, neon blue lakes…every turn and view was more beautiful than the last. Mountains, rainbows, little baby calves and lambs (and deer?!) roaming innocently in lush green fields; beautiful bold skies reflected in glittering water–at times my senses became overloaded with beauty. We took too many photos, or maybe not enough.

As the sun started to sink behind the mountains, the skies turned bright red, and then faded into a soft blue. I watched the baby lambs frolicking in the fields, playing with one another, lying sleepily and lazily in the grass, staring at the sky, and taking walks with his/her mom. Such innocence and playfulness wrapped up in a tiny little creature. I wanted to steal one of these lambs (sly wouldn’t/won’t let me) and take the little lamb home with me–a memory of a perfectly beautiful day.
P1010191 IMG_2653 IMG_2652Top news stories:
– Christchurch earthquake and the 2,000+ after shocks
– The coach of the All Blacks rugby team was arrested for speeding
– What does the filming of The Hobbit movies mean to NZ

Kiwi decoder guide:
capsicum = bell pepper
slower car bay = turnout
D.O.C. = Department of Conservation
Hokey Pokey = ice cream with toffee – a kiwi specialtyP1010206

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  • jj
    November 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Wow…it doesn’t even look real.

    Capsicum seems to be a Brit thing altho technically I guess it is all peppers…

  • veronika
    November 15, 2010 at 6:44 am

    totally fake. we kept saying it over and over, “this looks fake, this looks fake”
    no wonder they film all the fantasy movies here bc they dont have to cgi much. FAKE.