We woke up on our final morning in New Zealand in the small lakeside town of Lake Tekapo. The previous night we had driven into the town in darkness, and could not have been more anxious to see the pure turquoise lake all the guide books had spoken about.
We had reorganized our agenda a bit to allow for just an hour in Lake Tekapo, and more hiking in Mt Cook per the advice of the info center. Accordingly, there are more trails and unique places in Mt Cook, but Lake Tekapo draws more tourism due to its location and family friendly environment.
With our morning breakfast (more or less little scraps scavenged from the last bits of food we had left), we meandered down to the lake. Boy was it turquoise! Most water bodies get much of their color from reflections from the sky, but the river bodies in this section of the south island were fed directly from the glaciers of the southern alps. As the large ice rivers (glaciers) move, shift with gravity, and new snowfall, rock gets turned to powder beneath the ice. Further, as the altitude falls, the rock powder is carried along with the glacial water, leaving behind a magnificent turquoise lake! Now, I am attaching my photo of the Lake, but I felt it necessary to also attach a Wikipedia image, as the sun was directly facing us across the Lake, skewing the color. You’ll just have to believe me–it really was that colour.
With our plane departing at 6PM that day, we had to jet on our final ride in Jor-el, the Spaceship. We zipped down the route to Christchurch. Both Raphael and I had decided that we should at least try to see some of Christchurch, so we did our best to earn ourselves a few hours, let’s just call it very efficient driving.
Driving through town, we were constantly made aware of the 2011 earthquake that struck Christchurch. As our GPS guided us, we found ourselves driven into construction sites and dead ends. The magnitude of the disaster struck us nearly 3 years later. Never the less, it was clear that the people were determined to rebuild, and many businesses were determined to stick around, as may be seen in the innovation platform that has been developed around creating temporary “malls” out of shipping containers.
We headed to one such local business, C1 Espresso for a brunch before embarking on an urban hike. Originally opened in 1996, C1 Espresso relocated to a historic post office building in 2013, post earthquake. The building has been revamped, with a shabby-chic look complete with a bookcase sliding door and futuristic vacuum tubes (like a bank deposit drive-through)looped around the ceiling to deliver order tickets. While the food was right on with what we craved after two weeks of camping, getting water was an exciting ordeal! In the corner sat a vintage sewing machine that as you turned the bobbin and thread dispensed filtered water! Overall, this place is the coolest cafe in town, a must if on the off chance you are in need of a meal or coffee in Christchurch.
With the little time we had left, we chose to walk through the Botanic Gardens. Rather classic for botanic gardens, but the park did feature a variety of international trees such as the California Redwood, and we happened to spot a boy walking a duck! Having wandered all the way to the back of the park we had to jog back through the gardens, to Jor-el.
We had cut it very close as our GPS continually led us in wrong directions. Returning the car, we managed to squeeze the van in at 4:59, just as the gates were closing, and hiked back to the airport. We liternally profited from every moment we had in New Zealand.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about our South Island adventures!
Upcoming are stories of cafes, restaurants, bars, and Sydney!