Took a drive to Lake Tekapo as it was supposed to have the bluest water in the area. Going to be hard to top Lake Pukaki. Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three parallel lakes running north to south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin. Lake Ohau and Lake Pukaki are the other two. We arrived in the town of Tekapo and the sun was still a bit low and the water was blue but not dazzling yet. We stopped to view a very old stone church that is one of the most photographed in NZ and took some pictures. The Church of the Good Shepherd was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin in 1935. The churches in all the towns we have passed through so far have been very tiny, seating maybe 50 people. They are very quaint!
We had left early this morning to get here so we decided that it was time for a snack. We drove to the base of a mountain called Mount John where there was a sign stating we had to pay $5 to use the road to get to the café. The man who took our money had a son who played hockey in Chicago on one of the smaller teams. Always a connection no matter how far from home you are!
The drive to the top was steep and quick and there is an observatory here. This area is supposed to be one of the darkest places on earth! The moon has been too bright to see anything here the last few days. The top offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding town and lake and now that it is a bit later in the day and we are higher, we can see the lake and it’s crazy blue. Vastly different in shade from Lake Pukaki! This lake has blues that are deeper and more intense and Lake Pukaki has a green/aquamarine tint to it. We think it is a lighter color perhaps because the putty-colored waters from the glaciers feed into it directly.
The Astro Café at the top was surprisingly good. We had some tea, coffee, and some sweets and sat outside to enjoy the view. A really lovely area and worth the $5 just to drive up here.
Shawn usually researches everywhere we are going and today he picked a random road on Google Maps to drive down. Scary, but true. The road did follow the lake to its end and it was almost all dirt, meandering among the gentle hills with the lake always in sight. There were a few cows (yay!) and sheep (almost seen enough) and deer (still skittish) and they are all a part of the local stations. A station is what they call ranches in NZ and the ones we saw were as remote as almost all the other ones we have seen. You have to drive such long distances to get anywhere I assume they do not leave home very often. We do see school bus signs so the kids at least get to school…somewhere.
The autumn colors were especially bright against the blue waters.