Monday 15 February 2016

NZ Roadtrip Tekapo: Collectibles, canal and Cook

Today we left Akaroa and headed south to the real scenery - actually, south-west, taking the inland route after crossing the Rakaia. That meant we passed through quiet little Mayfield where, to our disappointment, the Overflow Retro Collectibles shop was closed. Such a shame: through the windows we could see that it was crammed with old and quirky stuff that it would have been fun to have a poke through, There's a mass of things in the yard alongside, too. But the lady who runs it only opens when she feels like it, so most people end up like us, pressing our noses to the glass and sighing.
Never mind: there were plenty of glories to come, so we carried on along Canterbury's classic long, straight roads lined with shelter belts, past paddocks full of sheep, into the Mackenzie country. The first proper stop, of course, was Lake Tekapo, blue and gorgeous, and offset by classic wispy lenticular clouds. We were so lucky that it was such a beautiful day, with everything clean and crisp and sparkling.
We could see Aorangi/Mt Cook at the far end, too - not something that can be guaranteed. So we were in a good enough mood not to be too irritated by all the crowds of tourists, mainly Chinese, swarming around the lake edge, the pretty little Church of the Good Shepherd, and the famous sheepdog statue nearby. It took some patience to snatch a photo without anyone in it.
Pressing on, the next marvel was the Pukaki Canal, which takes water from the lake to the Waitaki hydroelectric system, and is a quite stunningly milky aqua colour, thanks to the ground-up rock flour in the water. Glaciers will do that, you know. It's full of trout and salmon, apparently; and quite startlingly straight. 

Then came Lake Pukaki with even better views of Aoraki, and fewer people. Views like this are why tourists arriving in New Zealand need to come straight down to the South Island. This is the real thing - forget all that green lumpy stuff up there in the North, this is the proper New Zealand. Or it is to me, anyway - but then, I am a born Mainlander.
The Baby isn't, though, and she thinks just the same. She, the lucky, lucky thing, has been doing her own road trip from the very top to the very bottom of the country, on her bicycle, and this is where she's been really blown away by the scenery. Myself, I'm blown away not just by her adventurousness, her determination and her grit, but also by her proudly hairy legs and sun tan - both carefully cultivated as badges of honour. She's been Warm Showering, and free camping, but tonight I'm happy that she'll be safely under our roof. I just wish it were a nicer one: this is our worst Airbnb so far - clean enough, but so basic, and nothing, nothing! supplied in the way of breakfast. Not even any salt to put in my porridge! Appalling.
But, what can you expect of Twizel? The town is a bit of a blot, totally artificial (built to house hydroelectric workers) and only ever meant to be functional and temporary. It should have been pulled down years ago, as it was meant to be. Still, it's a convenient stopping-place, and Poppies restaurant served up an acceptable pork belly tonight.

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