Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The new bridge across Lake Tekapo

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
oldbearnews editor

While doing some research last year -  I stumble on an very early-ish aerial Photo of the Lake Tekapo River and the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Actually I think the focus was the original bridge across the river - and the neighbourly pub just of to the right of this image.  This is the first bridge and it got dismantled when the NZ Government decided it was an ideal location for a power station and a dam.  The bridge would have been submerged and lost forever.  As I understand it - the timber got recycled for various projects.   Seeing that Tekapo seems to be our regular holiday haunt and we have a soft spot for the area - we got very interested when it appeared that the town would build a special foot bridge - in order to avoid crossing the main road twice on the way from town to the lake front with is famous church. Fund-raising for this project began several  years ago and after some delays (including the realisation that the wrong steel was used - which had to be re-made) the new bridge was finally ready. So naturally when we had a spare day - we decided to be mad and go there just for a night.  Luckily for us we got a room just for the night (sounds devious??) and were able to walk on said new bridge. This image was taken from the top of Mount John Observatory - just to give a comparative view. 

Have to say - when the Church was originally build - it would have been more like a barn in a big field and the world famous view out of its altar window would have been significantly different. The raised lake adds to the grand imagery for sure!

Anyhow - to cut a long story short - as soon as we found out that the new bridge was open and we had a spare day - we decided to go there and walk across it.  First impression - good!! Landscaping at either end yet to be completed. I also noticed that the planks were made out of wood and some had been engraved (with the sponsors names or people who made $$ contributions via fund-raising) and some of those names (after only 3 months of being laid) have already faded in the harsh summer sun.
Further - the timber used (as any timber will do) has lifted and moved as it dried out - so there is up to 10mm hight difference from one plank to the next. It might become a tripping hazard.  On the other hand - the council may yet do more work on that aspect - because in winter this could be very icy and slippery so the gaps might not make any difference in the long run.  One hopes so.

In any case - it was a simply stunning day and yours truly in photographic heaven.  The newly acquired wide angle lens got a decent work out as did the rest of the gear.  We went there principally to take pictures of the bridge and somehow still ended up with many more of the church itself. 

The bridge gives a new vantage point - right over the middle of the canal and lets you change the angles towards the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Some landscaping yet to be done and one wonders if they leave the pine tree standing . . . . .

From the highest point of the bridge looking towards the church and mountain range.  We commented on the lack of snow on the tops.  We saw more snow when we were here last in late summer with my cousin Doris!! It does change round the views!!

It is a very busy place - on the outside - and everyone is jostling to get the "just" right picture.  Funnily enough most churches would give an arm and leg to have that  many people in or around their church.  Inside it is another story!!
The lake level was low and here half the bridge is visible.  Hmm the imported pest of a plant - the Lupins -  have been and gone with their flowers - I am sure they would add a lot of colour the scenery!!
You can no longer take pictures inside the church - much to the disappointment  of the very many hobby/professional picture snappers. You can however use a very powerful telephoto lens and stand way back and hope like mad that no one walks into the frame . . .    It is however not the same.  We did notice that the atmosphere inside the church has returned to something akin of peace and holiness.  You can sit and reflect on the grand gesture of our maker in creating such a wonderful backdrop and your very own and some say insignificant place in the universe - without having to listen to the constant pushing and shuffling and click click of various over-eager and often frustrated photographers.   I am still wondering if there is a business opportunity waiting (you know - recreate the interior look next door and then charge xx$$ per minute for anyone who wants to capture THAT look) to be explored.  
Anyhow - back to the reason why we came here - new wide-angle lens and the bridge!!! Clearly some people before me had walked across this particular spot as the grass was trodden down to almost a permanent path . . . . 

Best time to take a pic - late summer evening around dinner time! Less people around and the lighting makes this an easy shot to take.  Usually there is always part of one or other wall that is in shadow an this makes for difficult conditions.   We had walked from our room to the restaurant and I only had my cell-phone with me - and it was one of those spur of the moment things - turns out it was one of the better images from the whole trip!!

Before dinner - as in during the late afternoon, we decided given the weather forecast and limited time we would go up to the Mount John Observatory.  I am glad we did do just that in the end.  First surprise - there is now a toll gate at the bottom of the drive - asking for a $5 parking fee.  REALLY????   In New Zealand???  Since when???   Sad to see that coming more and more into practise.  We also had to wait as it seemed there was no parking space left at the top.  Luckily for us and 3 minutes later and a short but lovely chat with the young girl from overseas who - urm *cough* manned* the gate, we were allowed to drive up.  (and swears at un-educated foreign drivers coming back down)
The view from up top - as always with Blue dome days - is just stunning.  I took a series of photos and stitched them together for a panoramic view!  It is as blue as the photo shows! The Uni has also seen its wisdom and had yet another student from overseas present on-site, who had the main telescope up and running and yes we saw (despite the daylight) the next nearest sun to our own solar system (Centaurs Alpha) - amazing these telescopes!!! One small version was set up to show us Mount Cook (or just the very top of it) and yes it was sunny and visible - but not for much longer.  The best thing though - was the telescope that was trained towards the sun and I saw some real life solar flares.  The above image is taken from the internet but it pretty much is how we saw it - red bright disk with the *smoke-like* flares going of to the sides - and yes there were a good number of them.  Hmmmm - do I invest in yet another gadget to be able to capture that with my own camera???  It was mind-blowingly stunning to see with your own eyes!!

The view from the garden right outside our lodgings! It was a lovely 26 degrees and just a gentle breeze and we had dinner already and the sun does not set until post 9pm along with a prolonged dusk time (it does go eventually completely dark well past 10pm) so we took the opportunity and sit outside along with our home made desert (rich chocolate cream cake) and we cracked open a Riesling and just chilled out until it got dark - by which time it was clear that there would be no night photography possible - the weather forecast was spot on with the flow of air - it brought lots of rain clouds in from the Tasman sea. Guess we might not see Mount Cook the next day when we leave for home again.

We decided that it is a crime to come this far and not stop at Lake Pukaki and spot his grand majestic mountain of New Zealand, so made the decision to go home the long way (adding some 250km to the journey).  Yes the weather had closed in and there was no mountain visible - the first time ever for me of all the times we had been there - and I guess - given the weather records in this region we, so far, have been extremely lucky with Mount Cook!  Still traditions are to be honoured and we got out a bottle of bubbly (non-alcoholic in this years case - given the long travel back home) and
poured a glass or two and did the traditional salute to the grand majestic mountain. Well we had to visualise his presence.  During the time we spent there we counted 10 camper-vans parked or coming and going and 4 tour buses as well as countless cars.
It was the case of spot the native Kiwi. Have to say - we saw far to many Motorhomes (converted from old buses) and yes we got a little bit envious - this is what we would like to do - sel up and tour the country with no restraints on time or places.    hmmmmm that will keep!!
We also bought the usual Salmon Fillet - all 3 kg of it - which always makes a super nice meal the next day at home.

We counted only 13 trucks (other then  the Milk truckers who have to go daily) so the driving to and from was very relaxed and easy flowing. Especially once you get off the normal beaten track.  We headed for Mamabears favourite power-station near Omarama and on to Kurow were we spotted some famous hay-bales.  They were supposed to be of Minnon fame - according to the news paper from 4 days back - alas it is from the recent Rugby world cup and its most famous son - Richie McCaw!! Of course - had to take a pic!!
Late lunch there and some cruising of the local stores and found a new Vineyard (or better - its shop front) and naturally had to sample their wines.  Folks we are in trouble - they were good and they want us to become members (with whatever benefits they can offer) and they SHIP to Christchurch.  Sighs.  From there it was past a very sleepy Waimate (not surprising - it is not a tourist town so nothing was open!!) and back home! 

Well long story short - we came - saw- and conquered - urm - sort of - we went and saw the new bridge which looks good and took to many pictures of the famous church and had a fun time relaxing and sadly coming back home again.
Farewell Tekapo - till next time

Have fun

 bear print

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