Tales of a wandering lesbian

Lake Tekapo

Our last major destination in New Zealand was Lake Tekapo, the lake right next to Lake Pukaki.

The day, unlike the last few, started out grey, threatening rain the entire morning.

After a quick lesbian-saves-the-day moment when we changed the tire of a stranded German student, we hit the road, out around Pukaki.  In the mist, the blue of the lake melted into the skyline.

The water was tempting.  Really, really tempting.  Bouncing like a little kid, I kept asking when we could go for a swim.  Krista’s good sense and the cloudy skies kept me from throwing myself in from the side of the road.

The mountains were gorgeous, the water was unearthly, and the lupine were overwhelming.  As we drove closer to Tekapo, the lupine fields increased in frequency and size.  We’d seen the flowers throughout the trip.  Every time we saw them, they seemed more intense.  We found ourselves on the side of the road on countless occasions, Krista snapping away and me collecting seed pods.

We arrived at the lake late in the day.  W took a quick spin around the town, located some gluten-free pizza and filled our propane tank.  Our night at Lake Tekapo was a rough one.  Although we were able to find a secluded place to bathe in the lake, we were challenged mightily when it came to finding a place to sleep.

The Department of Conservation campsites, which had been so good to us for two weeks were nowhere to be found in the Lake Tekapo area.  On the suggestion of a shopkeeper, we headed to a nearby lake to check out a pay-to-play campsite.  We ended up doing no more than a drive-by.  The boarded up trailers and vacant weekend homes weren’t encouraging.

Next, we drove around the other side of Tekapo, headed toward an off-season ski  resort, and hoping to repeat our experience at Cardrona.

Instead, we were met with nearly unnavigable gravel roads, and no sign of a place to camp.

Eventually, we found a nook.  A tiny gravel pit dug into the hill below the road.  We parked next to the solo evergreen tree, towering 20 feet in the air.  We thought this would be the most protected location for us, until about 2AM, when the wind, howling across the lake, and shaking our van, threatened to take the tree down.

Several van moves later, we found a level spot approximately 20 feet away from the tree, facing into the wind.  After that, the rest of the night was tolerable.  We were able to sleep, unafraid of being crushed in our sleep.

Lake Tekapo is best known for its chapel.  The Church of the Good Shepherd sits on the lake’s shore, giving the congregation an amazing view.

We spent a bit of time in the chapel and on the shores, inhaling the delicate honey smell of the lupine, and admiring the working dog memorial.

We ended our  trip to Lake Tekapo at the Mount John University Observatory, high above the lake, the town and the valley.  High, meant windy, however.  Even the sheep were huddled and sheltering from the cold.

Leaving our aliens in the car, we walked around the campus.

Up above, we were treated to a panoramic look at the area.  We had a side-by-side comparison of lakes fed by glaciers and those not.  We had a view of vast lupine fields.  We had a view of the distant mountains.

For the last time, we took time to sit and take in our surroundings.  With the wind blowing around us and the sun beating down on us, we were enveloped in New Zealand.

We left the observatory filled-up and grateful once again for all we had received on our trip.  We would leave the next day for the states.  But New Zealand was unlikely ever to leave us.

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February 3, 2011   1 Comment