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My Long Awaited 'Round the World' Trip

Queenstown to Lake Tekapo via Dunedin

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 21 December 2008 | Views [1797]

I said a fond farewell to Jessica as we left Queenstown bright (this does not refer to sunshine) and early in the morning.  We had a fair drive to Dunedin & for once there was not a whole lot to see so for the most part my fellow Magic travellers & I read, slept, listened to music, had a chat or stared out the window.  It was chilly and miserable and I was so grateful to have my jacket back.  We got to Dunedin at around 1.30pm where some brave souls had decided that they were going out to watch the Albatross, Penguins, Sea Lions etc.  I however, was not in the mood for the rain and cold and opted to rather sit and write postcards & have a nice coffee & divine lunch in a local New Zealand coffee shop called Mojo's, recommended by a Kiwi friend as a far better option to Starbucks & voted Wellingtons favourite coffee in a recent survey.

Once postcards were written and my tummy was full I headed off to find an internet cafe to keep warm in for a couple of hours before heading back to the hostel hunched up into my fleece & jacket as the weather had now really turned cold (a couple of days before Christmas I might add when it is supposed to be warm, being summer and all).  I could not wait to have a nice hot shower after dinner & to climb into my warm bed.  I had not thought that there was a whole lot going on in Dunedin (other than the venue of the All Blacks recent historic loss to the Springboks - finally) & regrettably discovered that in fact the Otago Peninsula which would have been a good walk was in fact good to see although in fairness the weather wasn't exactly the best to be in, so another for next time.

We started the morning off with a little walk up Baldwin Street which is the World's Steepest Street (according to the Guiness Book of Records) & given that it was no easy little morning breather it certainly felt like the steepest street to me.  Morning tea or breakfast for those who don't need breakfast first thing was at the Moeraki Boulders which was rather odd.  They are a bunch of spherical boulders that look as if they have been scattered within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in a scientific reserve.  Local Maori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of an Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.  This legend tells of the rocky shoals that extend seaward from Shag Point as being the petrified hull of this wreck and a nearby rocky promontory as being the body of the canoe's captain.  In 1848 W.B.D. Mantell sketched the beach and its boulders, more numerous than now which I suspect is from wave erosion as many of them appear to have crumbled & I suspect that they will eventually erode away completely, never to be seen again.

The answer to my why is it so cold question was answered by reception at the Dunedin YHA who told me that it had snowed somewhere nearby the previous evening (right around the summer solstice when it is NOT supposed to be snowing).  This of course became very apparent once we had left the Otago shores & headed inland towards the many snow capped mountains which were just spectacular.  According to our guide there should not have been a drop of snow in sight which I would then have to say that the snow Gods were indeed smiling on me (even if they were making me terribly cold) as mountains are so much prettier when they are covered in snow.  Particulary when they are the background to the likes of Lake Pukaki at the bottom of Mt. Cook which is a glacial lake with the most amazing colour water I have ever seen.  The inland road past damns and mountains & Lake Pukaki was yet again another stunning journey.  I was absolutely bummed that our driver appeared to be in some hurry & opted not to stop at the Lake Pukaki lookout which looked over the lake towards Mt Cook which would have been such an amazing photo opportunity.  Anyway, it was unfortunate but I still got to see the spectacular Lake Pukaki & Mt Cook even if there was no decent opportunity for a picture & of course memories are always better than pictures.

Once we got to Lake Tekapo we had a quick stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd for the prettiest photos I have taken so far.  Absolutely idyllic.  For anyone wanting to get married in a church this would absolutely be the perfect setting and I was told that one would need to book three years in advance for that exact reason.  The hostel was right on the lake with beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance.  Stunning.  Beautiful sunsets too.  We went to the pub for a couple of drinks to say goodbye to another Dutch girl and 2 Dutch guys that Jessica & I had travelled with off and on as they were off to Christchurch the following day.  The stars when I walked back to the hostel at around 1am were nothing short of spectacualr.  Only in Karijini had I seen such a beautiful sky.  I can see why one of the Lake Tekapo activities is star gazing weather permitting.  I was extremely grateful that it had been a perfect day both for taking stunning lake & mountain photographs as well as for star gazing.  Does it get any better than this? 


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