9 Dec Mt John on foot
A leisurely breakfast, then we consult the info board, and set off around 10am. The track passes the ice-rink and Tekapo Springs resort, all close to the lake. It zigzags up through the larch trees, good and shaded and though steep enough in places, it's a good track, easy to follow all the way. Probably a climb of approx 1 000 feet. Mount John is about 3,300, The climb feels quite strenuous, taking about 45 minutes, as indicated from the bottom of the track to the South Summit.
Once we emerge from the wooded area the views of the snowy peaks west and north grab the attention. The observatory comes into view, but the South Summit must be conquered first. It reminds me of Scafell Pike, with its rocky summit and a shelter skulking behind the highest point. The view is wider, and the Pike doesn't have a car park nearby. But it doesn't have vast waves of snow covered peaks in midsummer either! The view in all directions is superb.
We descend a short distance before climbing our first stile of the walk, then along a field path up hill until we meet the road to the Astro Cafe. I quicken my pace - coffee calls.
We consult the toposcope and identify Mount Cook, and some of the nearer peaks. We buy a chocolate brownie between us, then when it arrives decide we need/want/deserve one each. We spend about half an hour indulging in the snack and the view, before making a move to walk back. A couple of Spanish speakers are videoing themselves commenting on their travels through New Zealand. They're traveling by motorbike, and have plenty to say.
We follow the circular track as far as the road, cross it and join the track to the Lake. A man who has come up that way tells us it's quite steep and there's no shade, but it's easier going than the way we came up. I look back to the observatory.. The path is discouragingly clear, climbing consistently.
We reach the point where our way turns south along and still above the lake. Easy enough walking. There are countless small butterflies, blue ones and coppery ones among others. The flowers and vegetation looks very similar to the ones at home - roses, clover, hawkbit and grasses. The lake is an impossible colour - bright turquoise, because of a suspension of tiny pieces of rock reflecting the light.
The man said no shade, and he was right. We sit down facing the water, with coats over our heads for protection, then drink our cartons of juice and eat our cheese rolls.
By three o'clock we're back at the village, and head for the supermarket to buy a large bottle of ginger beer.
A lazy couple of hours before we eat. Later we walk down to the Church of the Good Shepherd, and the statue that honours all collie dogs and their contribution to farming in the MacKenzie basin. The last sentence on the plaque is in Gaelic, which was the first language of many of the Scottish settlers. I think it means "Blessings on the sheepdog".
There's a fine sunset, turning the lake pink. Later we go outside to admire the spectacular show of stars. The Milky Way really is milky, and there's our now familiar upside down Orion, and the Southern Cross.