Monday, May 30, 2011

Lake Takapo to Dunedin (including Mt. Cook) - New Zealand

The weather was better but still not great, the biggest driving challenge was the wind hitting the side of the van which meant you had to steer with lots of concentration at times.  We took the inland scenic route from Birdling's Flat on Matt’s recommendation which was stunning, there were views of snowcapped mountains and massive rolling green hills with tons upon tons of sheep and cows.  There were hardly any people on the roads either so driving was a breeze.  After absorbing a drive of stunning scenery we made it to the small settlement around Lake Tekapo.  
The views on the inland route to Lake Tekapo
We wanted to find somewhere to camp for free, but lots of areas had no camping signs and it was already dark and not so well lit.  We found a large car park right on the lake which only had small no camping signs on one side of the car park and as it was already dark when we arrived and there was a public toilet nearby we thought we would go for it.  There we turned on our gas for some hot drinks and relaxed with an amazing view of the lake.  The temperature was dropping pretty low so we boiled up a couple of hot water bottles, but it had become so cold that we ended up sleeping with most of our clothes on including wooly hats.  The campervan has a portable heater which only works when the van is plugged into mains power itself i.e. at a powered campsite.  Otherwise the domestic battery is only used to power the lights, fridge and the pump for the water tap and is separate from the normal car battery.  Altogether it was just about a comfortable night’s sleep.  Thankfully we had persuaded the clerk at the hire company to throw in the extra duvet for free and give us the hot water bottles otherwise we would have been in a right pickle.  Another campervan had arrived during the night and parked up so we weren’t the only ones who would get in trouble which the police if they ever came which they didn’t.  

Enjoying the drive immensely
When I got up to go to the toilet the next morning in the bitter cold there was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen.  The Sun was rising over the mountains including Mt Cook, the biggest in New Zealand and turning the sky behind them a luscious red over the lake.  I could already not feel my fingers after washing them, but I grabbed the camera and decided to freeze outside and try to capture this moment by snapping away on Kate’s Nikon.  Having taken as many photos as possible it was time to go back to the van, pack up, try to warm up.  We visited the local church which was gorgeous before returning to the van and and get back on our way after fueling up ourselvs on a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.   

The Sun rising behind the mountains

Sunrise over the lake a little bit later
The church

Taken in the reflection of the church window

Kate peering through the window of the camper

We drove further south along the scenic route stopping just before lunch at a salmon farm that wasn’t able to offer a tour due to maintenance but we still managed to buy a large piece of salmon for the equivalent of a fiver which we cooked and ate for lunch with some boiled potatoes from a stunning Mt Cook viewpoint.   

Cooking up the salmon

Mt. Cook viewpoint, the largest mountain in NZ

The two of us at the viewpoint

We made it as far as Dunedin that day which is pretty impressive as it involved driving the rest of the Scenic route with only a couple of stops at some ginormous hydroelectric dams.  For the last hour or so we picked up a hitchhiker who was in fact a kiwi and gave him a ride to his friend’s house.  He was a friendly chap and said that he hitchhiked regularly and that lots of people do it.  After a bit of a struggle around the roads of Dunedin to find our campsite, we finally found the one we had booked to stay in and whilst it was no way near as cold as the previous night it was still nice to be able to use the heater for the first time and grab a shower in their facilities.  It was then we discovered the atrocities of the internet situation in New Zealand.  At Mat’s he had a payment plan which meant he had a pretty generous megabyte limit (yes they charge you for the amount you use it here still) but any tourist geared location will charge you a fortune for barely any time of slow crappy internet.  Whilst not liking myself particularly for this rant and being expectant I really thought with the British influence that the country would be ahead of Laos in the technology race.  I don’t miss the internet particularly it is just the backwardness of the entire situation makes it quite frustrating, it’s kind of like having it but not really having it.  Because of this we used it as quickly as possible to check that we had received a positive response from our second couchsurfing host Al which alas we had not.  

One of the hydroelectric dams en route

No comments:

Post a Comment