Sometimes the journey is as much fun as the destination. Yesterday’s trip from Fairlie to Queenstown, a journey of just under 300k with a predicted drive time of three hours 25 minutes, took us almost eight.
And for once the delay did not involve mechanical meltdowns or comedic catastrophes! Though as we drove there was a lot of remembering previous
Trips and associated good and bad times!
Before we left I had had a lovely country run of about 40 minutes, enjoying the wake up sounds, sights and smells of small town New Zealand. Sheep, cattle, birdsong, woodsmoke. This was followed by a cooked breakfast and a soak in the hot tub. I seriously want one of those.
We were packed and on the road by 10am. The cloud hung low and squeezed the odd drop of water onto the windscreen, occasionally meriting the use of the wipers. It was a short drive to Lake Tekapo which seems to have been ruined by overbuilding. It is so different from when we came as kids, staying in relocated Ministry of Works houses on the lakefront, feeding the power metre with 20 cent coins and learning to skate on the outdoor rink.
I finally got my Denheath custard square and a coffee which I ate, parked overlooking the lake. It was very still and looked very cold. Low cloud obscured the mountains. From here we continued south through the Mackenzie Basin. I am more used to seeing deep golden tussocks against a brilliant blue sky. The low cloud made it very grey and bleak looking. We came across a surreal Lake Pukaki which glowed slightly blue against the cloud. It was very thick and low here. No photo ops for Mt Cook today!
Andrew threw me onto my bike and I picked up the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. I loved it. Zipping along a well formed but still rugged trail, the blue glowing hint of a lake to my right, the distant hum of the main road to the left. Just me, my bike and a lot of bunnies. Andrew picked me up again at the top end of Pukaki by the canal inlet. These southern lakes are all linked by massive canals which move water around to feed the massive power hydro scheme. Fascinating engineering.
From Pukaki the weather was more fragmented. Sporadically the cloud would lift and we would be treated to a hint of a vista. The colours remain vibrant and would reflect beautifully in the still waters of the many lakes. Sadly I knew my little camera would not do it justice. I committed them to the photo album of my mind.
I needed more food! How or why I am not sure. I don’t eat this much at home. Omarama offered some ancient fried food or any selection of stodgy carbs. I chose to wait.
We continued south through the Lindis. Wow. It never ceases to impress me. I do live in a beautiful country. And eventually my starvation was relieved at Tarras with a bowl of creamy potato and garlic soup. I had been chilled for some time. Andrew and I do not operate on the same heating system. He was driving in a t shirt with the window down. I had a merino top, a thermal top and my windproof fleece, my winter weight cycle tights, and my beanie and gloves. I was still cold. But the driver’s needs dominate.
There was a merino store attached to the cafe. As all the signs said, “Your Icebreaker comes from here.” I fell in love with a little merino dress. Unfortunately they didn’t have it in my size otherwise I would have bought it. Very disappointed.
We carried on past Lake Dunstan, bypassing Cromwell and through the Kawarau Gorge. Again I continue to be wowed by this scenery. Despite my unsubtle hints we drove past the original home of the bungy, instead stopping by Lake Hayes for a bike ride. It was 4pm and the sun was dropping quickly. The low sun and the lifting cloud lit the lake in a golden glow. The trail looped the small lake. It was a busy wee trail with us two biking and maybe 50 people out walking or running. Andrew found it tough, telling me it was further and hillier than his commute to work. I. Loved. It. Swooping up and down the hills, relishing the view at every corner.
We got back to the car right as the sun set, to the minute. Perfect timing. And drove the final kilometres to Queenstown.
We are treating ourselves with lakefront room at the Copthorne, about 1k from the centre of town. It was dark by the time we got to the room but I think we will love our view.
We finished the day by walking in to town and having a meal at Speight’s Ale House. I may not need to eat today. Yeah, right. (Oops wrong beer ad.)
Cover photo: Lake Hayes at the start of our bike ride
Title: As we drove through some of the country used to film the Lord of the Rings series, it seems fitting to title my blog with a quote from Tolkein himself.