Wrapping up our adventures in the North Island, we made a quick visit to the Coromandel Peninsula. We saw the Hot Water Beach, where at low tide you can dig yourself a natural hot tub in the sand. We enjoyed scenic views all along the coast, including ones seen from a short hike to Gemstone Bay.
Then, it was off to the South Island!
We had heard especially glowing reviews of the South, and were eager to see it for ourselves.
Our first stop after landing in Christchurch was the small town of Lake Tekapo. Twinkling and glittering reviews might have been most appropriate for this destination. The town is situated within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve- over 1,000,000 acres dedicated to being free of artificial light pollution. Thus, the star-gazing was phenomenal and never to be forgotten. We could plainly see the Milky Way and an unusually brilliant Mars and Saturn.
One night, we drove even deeper into the countryside n persuit of stars, and nearly scared the bugeezums out of ourselves. “Why is there a tiny shed right there? There’s nothing around for miles…” A small, ratty structure stood completely alone in the darkness. A chain, that might have held a bell at one time, swung menacingly above the door. I pretended to be brave enough to inspect the little hut, but decided against it when I was about 5 feet away.
As the night’s sky is my favorite natural wonder, all spookiness endured was more than worthwhile.
There was the sky, then there was the inland sea. Lake Tekapo is an actual body of water, for which the town is named. And, it was our first demonstration of how glacier lakes exceeded our expectations.
The lake was big, beautiful, and blue. We were nearly blown away. I mean this literally, as we viewed the lake from atop Mt. John where the wind was unbelievably strong. It was the type of icy wind that makes your nose run profusely. But also the type to be kind enough to blow so forcefully that it acts as a tissue- blowing nose-water clean off your face. "Why, thank you, Wind," one might say begrudgingly.
We were advised to also pay a visit to Lake Pukaki, another glacier lake. Perhaps it was the right day, time, and temperature, but Lake Pukaki was perfectly incredible. It was a shade of blue water that we had never seen before. Like a cocktail of cool turquoise, aquamarine, and frothy seafoam.
It was truly a day of bewilderment. In a stone’s throw, we left the azure lakes and hazy blue mountains to find an utterly new landscape. As if we had driven directly into a wormhole, and popped out in another land. Yet, we simply were transversing the Lindis Pass- a valley covered in New Zealand’s iconic tussocks, which made the mountains look as if they were made from camels’ backs rather than of earth.
Every day, another place, unplanned, amazed, in the Land of the Kiwis.