Christchurch and Tekapo

February 2017

Pre-Departure

In the 24 hours before leaving Australia, Sydney had two major rainstorms, with massive flooding in many streets. Our Glebe home was not exempt. The gutters did not cope, the back veranda doors are not watertight, the sky light leaked, and most seriously, water entered through a rotten window frame on the upstairs bedroom. We had been trying to find a carpenter for months to fix it.
Fortunately we were home, and managed with the help of buckets, pots and pans, and lots of towels to limit the damage - water was dripping through the light holes in the ceiling. I recall a similar experience at Zoetvlei with heavy rains, when the pots and pans came out, to create quite an orchestra.
We nearly cancelled our trip.
But having managed to mop up between 2.30 and 3.30 am, with our taxi arriving at 5.00 am for an early morning flight, we decided to risk it. Our friend, Elizabeth, was staying in the property off and on, and the cleaner had a key and a very efficient mop. We asked both to keep an eye out for further storms, and Jim to use his mop if necessary.
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Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Our first night was in Christchurch in accommodation arranged through Airbnb. We had expected it to be self-catering and stand alone - it was advertised as such on the web - but it was a room with an adjacent bathroom in the owner's home. This was an unexpected and unwanted surprise, so we ate out at the local Pub - the food was very greasy.
During the afternoon we stocked up with a cheap esky, freezer brick, duvet and books purchased at the Salvation Army Op Shop, and then all our non-perishables, purchased at Countdown, the NZ version of Woolworths. There was no point in purchasing perishables, as our host did not have room in her fridge. These we picked up the next morning (from New World and a Farmer's Market) before heading to Lake Tekapo.
Scenery, as one approached the mountains from the Canterbury Plains, was spectacular, and the colours in McKenzie country were almost unreal.
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Our accommodation, Middle Hut on Mt Hay Sheep Station, located about 7 km from Tekapo Village, right on the eastern side of the lake was a pleasant surprise - iconic shearer's quarters, very ordinary from the outside, but with three bedrooms, an old fashioned kitchen and an outdoor toilet and shower block, with lovely hot water and plenty of space. The views from the front balcony (if one can call it that) and from inside made our day. We were able to capture the changing colours over our two-night stay.
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On the day of arrival we hiked the Lake George Scott track, but the signposting, maps and verbal descriptions were unclear. This meant that we extended the walk to include the 'white water race-course' - a major feature of this area. Some of the views from higher up were special.
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The biggest tourist attraction at the Tekapo Village seemed to be the historic church, which did have wonderful views of the lake through its window, but one was not allowed to take photos.

That evening we had a "so so" meal - cooking facilities a bit basic, but wonderful views and we were entertained by the drama of the three local sheep on our property having broken through the closed gate to gain entry to the road. Tim ran to the South, I covered the North and we slowly herded them back toward the gate. Our Zoetvlei experience of herding sheep helped. I stopped a truck that was about to run into them and three great guys worked with us to herd the sheep back into the paddock.
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The problem, we realised, was the inadequate gate lock. The sheep (more clever than many I have known and almost at Lancelot's level of gate intelligence - Rita's Horse that used to open gates) hung around the gate hoping that one of the Middle Hut residents would leave them an opportunity. Despite our having closed the gate, we thought quite securely, they bashed and battered it until it opened, giving them access to the more verdant verge of the road. Who can blame them?
We have suggested to our host an ergonomic adjustment to the gate latch that may solve her problem. From the many notes left to us to 'please close the gate', this is obviously a frequent occurrence. I have no doubt that visitors did try to close the gates, but also underestimated the intelligence of these three sheep. It was fun.
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We woke on Day 2 to mist and rain, but it seemed to be clearing by mid-morning so we followed the plan, climbing the Mount John Summit and the Lakeshore track. The weather, the track and views surpassed our expectations and even though we were prepared with all our wet-weather gear, none was needed. Photos say it all.
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Before heading home we drove to the Hydro Electric station and related canal, quite close to where we had walked on the previous day. As always, we find these engineering intrusions on the environment interesting, but no doubt it helped provide our hot water and lighting while in Tekapo.
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Our last escapade for the day was to Lake Alexandrina and McGregor (wonderful camping and caravan sites), where we found very different vegetation - willow like trees surrounding the lakes.
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Then back home to a 'not so gourmet' meal, as the cooking facilities failed again - not possible to turn on a grill and a microwave at the same time, and not much else available - but we managed, ate healthily and enjoyed the changing light, while our clothes from the day dried in front of us.
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File translated from TEX by TTH, version 4.08.
On 19 Mar 2017, 21:23.