Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Short holiday trip to Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
oldbearnews editor
As said before the next day was a cracker!  After seeing the observatory and being gobsmacked with the view we hot-footed it to Lake Pukaki and the glorious Mount Cook!  I have to say - we regarded ourselves extremely lucky - not often you get to see the mountain in all this glory!  Often the top is shrouded in clouds and the previous locals used to call it "cloud piercer"!  Aptly describing the mountain!!
These two pictures were taken from the far end of the lake.  The water is the same milky blue as in Lake Tekapo - and almost the same source glacier but same reasoning!  Incidentally  both lakes are storage / feeder lakes for New Zealand's hydro-electric generation scheme.  The water from Tekapo gets 'used' 8 times for electricity generation before it hits the ocean! Not bad going!!  Of course the lakes are getting used for various outdoor on-water activities! Most notably the newly created rowing Venture at Lake (urm - something rather) for international regattas! Then there is sailing / fishing / salmon farms / water-sking . . . etc the list is endless.
Ah yes and both pictures were taken from the same spot, I played with the lenses - 18-75mm and 75-300mm focal lenght's! Still learning the limitations of the cameras and playing round with the F-stops!

 At the Mount Cook village is of course a information center that doubles as a Department of Conservation (DoC) office for the hikers and outdoor freaks! Not to mention the souvenir shop (where this bear found some more iron-on badges of local theme - and splashed out! Said badges are being sewn on a new camp blanket with a NZ -been-to town's theme)
This is the office view!  Not bad going on a day like today, and surprisingly they do get some work done!!
 It was time to have some lunch. We decided to forgo the local cafeteria and found this roadside outdoor spot.  The camper van belongs to the other older couple sitting at the other table.   Given the scenery the al-fresco dining was something special, and you had to remind yourself that there WAS some lunch at the table waiting to be eaten! In fact we could have sat there for a long time if we didn't have more planned and of course the 1.5 hour drive back to the campsite later in the day. 
It is a national Park and as such Mount Cook has a large number of short to medium to several overnight hikes/walks.  For us we did the kea-point walk - 3 hours return.  Basically it takes you right up to the bottom of the glacier mountains.  As it was summer and lunchtime - no Keas to be found (although we heard one or two during the walk) They usually come down from their lofty heights at either breakfast or dinner time!  In-between there is a lot of views to take in and to be photographs taken of - which made the walk longer then expected.  At least this river crossing was done on dry foot - but trust me if it had rained this would be a raging torrent.  Reminded me of my Milford Sound tramp back in late 1980's- (NZ wettest region and we had 4 days with 32 degree sunshine - and only ONE river crossing where the ankles got wet!). 


At the aptly named kea point is a platform to gawk at the scenery. Time to stop and take it all in, when this lovely blond-haired, young swedish lady turned up and started snapping away, and all I c o u l d  focus on was the luxury of using a Cannon 400 mm lens (and quote = there is enough light to be able to hold it steady with out using a tri-pod)! What a little beauty!!  I was pleased that I manage to snap this particular pic - unobserved / framed / and just a tad underexposed. Darn that blue sky and strong sun!!  Again patience was in order as many a time other tourists walked into the frame, but eventually I got there! 

Coming back to the 'local base' is the newly (ok - its about 2-3 years old) opened Sir Edmund Hillary Education center. (He of Mount Everest fame) This statue was formerly in a green space but has since been shifted, making snapping him and looking at Mt Cook a challenge.  You would not believe from this photo that he is standing on a balcony with a lot of fence and concrete around him!
Anyhow after a exhausting day seeing the observatory and all the heat / sun and snow / ice and fresh air / 14 km walk - it was time to head back to our campsite. 

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