After visiting Christchurch for several days, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend a few more days exploring the dramatic scenery of the Mackenzie District of the South Island. We headed to Lake Tekapo, one of the amazing turquoise-blue lakes in the region that get their distinctive color from the glaciers that formed them, scouring the lake bottom and creating a fine silt or “glacial flour” that reflects sunlight to create the distinctive bright blue color
Thanks to its wide open skies and isolation, the region is also recognized as part of the “International Dark Sky Reserve”, making it one of the best places in the world for stargazing. We were able to take advantage of a late-night tour at the Tekapo Springs, basking in the glory of a crystal-clear night to enjoy the stars of the southern hemisphere (i.e., or as I just learned, one half of our northern night sky, with constellations upside-down, and the other half with constellations only visible from the southern half of the globe!) while soaking in a natural hot pool – hard to beat! We weren’t able to capture photos from that experience, unfortunately, but suffice it to say it was memorable!
We enjoyed a beautiful hike the next day along the lake front to the top of Mt. John…
…and even ran across a mountain-top assembly of benches that was just clearly waiting for (or had just hosted?) a wedding – unfortunately I just couldn’t get Lee to renew our vows while we were there!
We went from there for a dramatic evening drive past Lake Pukaki, another glacier-carved turquoise expanse at the base of Aoraki, or Mt. Cook, and on into Mt. Cook National Park.
We had time for only a short visit in the park, but enjoyed a beautiful evening and dinner with a panoramic view of Mt. Cook, followed by a dramatic sunset over the mountains on our drive home. A fitting departure to this incredibly beautiful part of the country!