The day was supposed to be long as we had to cover 330 km to Mount Cook village with lot of stops in between. The weather in the morning did not look good with rains pounding. Our start was also delayed a bit as we overslept due to jet lag!! Nevertheless, we were all in high spirits as we started from Christchurch.
This was my real experience with New Zealand roads. We quickly got out of Christchurch and started crushing on SH-1. The drive was amazing though it was raining continuously. Most New Zealand roads are single lane and maximum speed limit is set to 100 km. This is much lesser than in US or Europe but the considering New Zealand (at least South Island) as hilly area, the speed limit look realistic. And thin traffic on roads make the drive beautiful!!
|Road on the way to Lake Tekapo|
The scenery got better as we left SH-1 and entered into hilly areas. And slowly the cloud cover started decreasing giving us some opportunity to stop the car and take some snaps.
|Views on the way to Lake Tekapo|
And then the Lake Tepako made its first appearance. Looked beautiful at its first look!!
|First view of Lake Tekapo|
Parked our vehicle at Dog monument(!!) and spent some time in the lake. The background of the mountains gave a nice view of the lake.
View of the church from the pedestrian bridge on the lake.
|Lake Tekapo with church in the background|
It was time for lunch and the lake was the good place to eat our self cooked food.
Mount John was the next destination. Situated high on the mountain is the astronomical research observatory. It is a narrow road to the top. As we started to climb up, the scenery reminded me of my visit to Hanley in Ladakh. The observatory and surroundings looked similar!!
|Lake Alexandra from observatory|
The views from the top of the mountain were stunning. The Lake Tekapo and Alexandra was visible.
|Lake Alexandra and tekapo|
The road to Mount John is is open till 5PM and a fee of NZD 8 is charged per vehicle. There is also a midnight twilight tour but that requires a stay at Lake Tekapo.
|Tekapo township seen from Mt. John|
We climbed down the mountain and continued our journey. The next lake in sight was Pukaki, a huge lake. There were two places to view the lake. One was the lookout that was situated on the main road.
The second was “Peters lookout” on the road to Mt Cook. The road goes next to the lake for several km and it was one of the great rides.
|View on Mt. Cook road|
Mt. Cook village was a small village situated in a isolated place with few lodges. This was the most expensive place we stayed in our New Zealand trip but was worth the price. Our place of stay was Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine lodge.
|Mt. Cook village|
The day was ended with a visit to visitor information center that was opposite to the hotel. It had lot of information about Mt. Cook area. Mt. Cook at 12,218 feet is the highest peak in New Zealand and it attracted lot of mountaineers. A good place with lot of historical information.
|At visitor center|
Mt. Cook was the only place where we could not get a kitchen in the room. But the hotel had a common kitchen which I liked a lot. It was a kind of opportunity for social gathering!!
|Kitchen in the hotel|