The Secret Diary of Adrian Petford Aged 39¾

Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo

Posted in Lake Pukaki,Lake Tekapo,Mount Cook,New Zealand 2009 by Adrian Petford on August 20th, 2009

As Sunday was going to be mostly sightseeing, I was hoping for good weather and my wish was granted. Unlike the day before, it was sunny.

On State Highway 83 – 16-Aug-2009
On State Highway 83 – 16-Aug-2009

Leaving Oamaru, I drove up State Highway 83 for the journey to Omarama. This was a very pleasant drive, largely straight and through some spectacular scenery. Lake Waikati was a brilliant blue. I stopped a few times to take some photos of the best views. I really feel happy when driving like this. After a couple of hours and having gone through several small towns (including the very Scottish sounding Duntroon) I passed through Omarama and turned onto the road to Mount Cook (also known by its Maori name of Aoraki). This was only a short drive, about 55km but it was breathtaking. Although the mountain tops were covered in cloud, they still looked spectacular. Quite a few photo stops ensued! I do find it amusing driving in the South Island how you can literally go for hours without seeing another car, the type of driving I like. The roads are quite literally deserted most of the time.

Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009
Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009
The road to Mount Cook – 16-Aug-2009
The road to Mount Cook – 16-Aug-2009
Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009
Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009
Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009
Mount Cook National Park – 16-Aug-2009

Mount Cook – 16-Aug-2009
Mount Cook – 16-Aug-2009

Arriving at Mount Cook, I parked up and went to the Old Mountaineer’s Cafe Restaurant for lunch – a local Aoraki smoked salmon bagel. It’s certainly a pretty exceptional spot to have lunch, with amazing mountain views all around! I made sure I took the time to have a good rest and enjoy the experience. Such is the tourist traffic around Mount Cook that a quite impressive village has developed at its foot. I was wise to take most of my photos on the way in, as it started drizzling as I was leaving. I still enjoyed the drive back to the main road though. As Mount Cook is adjacent to Lake Pukaki I’d already got a fair few photos of that already, but I stopped off at the visitors’ centre for more, and drove on to the lookout a couple of miles further on that Chris had recommended and it was worth the stop – an absolutely spectacular view.

Lake Pukaki – 16-Aug-2009
Lake Pukaki – 16-Aug-2009
Lake Pukaki – 16-Aug-2009
Lake Pukaki – 16-Aug-2009

It didn’t take long to reach Tekapo (my first sighting of the lake was amazing!) and find the Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park which is off the main road right down by the lakeside. I checked in and was given a map to my unit, which they told me had nice lake views. Excellent! Finding it, I saw it was, essentially a wooden cabin up on a raised platform with wide patio windows on one side and a spectacular unobstructed lake view through the trees. I’d certainly agree on it having nice lake views, that was the understatement of the year and the cabin really is quite an unusual place to stay. The whole holiday park is made up of cabins like these, some clearly more backpacker orientated as there’s a kitchen building, washroom, internet room etc. I’m quite happy here in my ensuite thank you! The only downside was they didn’t provide any tea making facilities or other essentials such as soap, which let down an otherwise excellent package a bit.

A cabin by the lake - Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park – 16-Aug-2009
A cabin by the lake – Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park – 16-Aug-2009
View from the window - Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park – 17-Aug-2009
View from the window – Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park – 17-Aug-2009

As it was still a reasonable day I only rested for about half an hour and then headed out to see what this place had to offer. First stop was the Church of the Good Shepherd, a very famous and picturesque 1930s church right on the lakeside which more than lived up to expectations. I got some nice photos of it with the lake in the background, given the conditions which were quite grey and overcast by now. I had a wander around the lakefront and took some time to enjoy the spot. I had to wait for a couple of youths to finish whatever they were doing to the sheepdog statue (riding it and shoving its head somewhere unmentionable, it looked like) before I could have a look myself!

At the end of a very successful day of sightseeing in which I’d seen everything I’d planned to, my only negative thought was I wished the weather could’ve been a bit better in the afternoon. One of the reasons I’d decided to stay at Lake Tekapo though was to give me another chance to potentially see the lake at its best, should the weather improve.

Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009

Getting up the next day, I tentatively peered out through a chink in the curtains, hoping for better weather and the signs were good. The mountains looked clear over the lake and the sun was coming out. By the time I’d checked out of the holiday park, the sky was blue, the sun was blazing and Lake Tekapo looked its usual stunning turquoise self. I briefly paused at a good spot for a photograph. Honestly, you could never tire of that view over the lake, it’s mind blowing.

I stopped at the Church of the Good Shepherd again and reshot most of the day before’s photo coverage with much better results. Lake Tekapo seen at its best must be one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Thankfully as it was still early, I had the place to myself.

Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009
Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo – 17-Aug-2009

I was just finishing up as the first tourist bus appeared coming down the road! I made a sharp exit and was quickly on my way to the final destination of this road trip – Christchurch.