Thursday, July 16, 2009

Road trip to Tekapo

One of the reasons I took my car south was that I was hoping the weather might be suitable for a road trip closer to the winter mountains. I was not to be disappointed on this occasion!
Friday morning I escaped Christchurch city, heading for the inland tourist route south, quickly discovering that the frost was much heavier inland. There were glimpses of the mountains at this stage, but they were largely draped in mist, and I wasn't sure if I was going to be lucky or not. However, somewhere around the region of Mt Hutt, the mist all cleared. I headed southwards with the sight of glorious snow-covered mountains to my right.

At Geraldine I turned inland again in the direction of the Alps. I loved this drive, seeing the white of the mountains ahead of me, and already I was in heaven.

Then heaven got even better. I know I have driven over Burke's Pass before in the summertime, but didn't find it at all remarkable. It lies at about 700m. As I came to the Pass this day, I entered a winter wonderland, where the snow had obviously covered the road a few days before. Snow was still covering the fields right down to the roadside.

It was all so bewitching that I decided I might even drive on as far as Mt Cook, even though that would make a very long driving day. However, somewhere not too far west of Tekapo, I could see cloud draping the bottom of the mountains, and soon I entered thick fog.

After 15 minutes in the fog, I decided that it was time to be sensible and retreat, and I later heard that this fog extended all the way down to Queenstown.

I drove back into the sunshine. Here you can see just a wisp of the fog, a hint of what lay ahead on the route south.
Instead of driving south I enjoyed a relaxed lunch by the lakeside at Tekapo, walking over frozen snow to get to the lake edge.

The views were just magnificent. What bliss!!

And the historic church at Tekapo had quite a backdrop. What a beautiful road trip it was, a truly magical day.

Christchurch and the seaside

I had been told that Christchurch had seen hardly any sunshine at all during June, so I had packed all my thermals. But luckily the sunshine arrived about the same time as I did, and stuck around for the whole week! My friend had somewhat of a family laundry backlog to catch up on though as a result of the recent inclement weather.......

One of the things I love when in Christchurch is the chance to walk along some long beaches. Tuesday saw three of us embark on the walk from Spencer Park to the Waimakariri River mouth, sometimes walking along the sand beside the beach, and sometimes slightly inland amongst the dunes closer to the lagoon. The sunshine lulled me into leaving my good windjacket behind, just taking my raincoat in case of need, but the risk paid off, and I enjoyed walking in the gentle winter sunlight in calm conditions. Once we reached the lagoon at the estuary end, we spotted some spoonbills and shags hanging out. It was quite muddy in places walking back on the inland track, which had unfortunately been rather torn up by some recent 4WD activity. It was sad to see the damage inflicted on areas where crabs etc clearly abounded.
Two days later I had another beach walk with some other friends. We started by the Waimakariri rivermouth this time, but on the opposite bank. Another lovely day for another great beach walk. Winter heaven.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heading to the South Island

School holidays! And I decided this time that I would head south and hopefully catch sight of both friends, family, and some snowy mountains.

First though there was a performance of Starlight Express to see in Wellington. I knew little about the musical, but Georgia, who was one of our young Sound of Music stars, was having her debut into professional theatre so I was hoping to catch sight of her. And catch sight of her we did: turns out there was some illness in the cast, and she was performing the role of Ashlea. And didn't she do well!! I loved the show- it was such a vibrant spectacle. The cast were incredibly well drilled and energetic, tearing around on skates for the whole show. The costumes were stunning, and the lighting was really effective. The songs, that were of various 'pop' styles, gave me plenty to laugh about, and there was all the melodrama of cheering for the underdog! We all loved it.

Next morning it was time to rise earlyish for the ferry across Cook Strait. I have to say, I quite liked watching all the commuter car lights stream by, knowing that I was heading off on a wee adventure rather than to work.
Given some of the weather recently, I was hoping it wouldn't be too rough.... and as it turned out, the Strait was almost like a millpond.

Before I knew it, we were sailing in past the treacherous looking bits of land at the edge of the Sounds
and we were soon sailing through Tory Channel where we saw the other Interislander ferry heading northwards.
Hardly any time later we had docked at Picton, and the ferry doors opened ready for us to drive off.....