Mountains and Lakes along the Inland Scenic Route
Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
87Trip End Dec 29, 2008
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Views of the Southern Alps loomed up in the distance and we stop at a few spots just to gaze at the scenery (Burkes Pass was particularly lovely). The scenery we drive through includes the Canterbury Plains which are mainly huge fields of sheep (of course!), deer or cattle. The Mackenzie Mountain range keeps us company for much of the time too and it is a lovely combination.
We spot a DOC (Dept. Of Conservation) site along the way and thought we would give this a go and take a 15km detour off the main route
From Geraldine it was yet another spectacular drive alongside the scenic route with snow capped mountains all the way to Lake Tepako, a small town on the banks of the lake. As we pull into the town we stop by the "Church of the Good Shepherd", a very small (and famous) church on the banks of the lake. The church probably doesn't hold more than20-30 people but must have the best view of any church anywhere in the world. In place of the usual stained glass behind the altar is a clear glass picture window looking out over the lake to the mountains behind. What an incredible setting!
Near the church also on the shores of the lake, there is a memorial to a collie dog "without whose help, we could not look after the sheep"
We drive around the lake to our campground and park up by the shores of the lake to watch the sunset.
Last night was the coldest so far, I reckon about -5C (luckily our powered site meant that we could keep our electric heater on all night to keep our van cosy). In the morning we are woken, once again by the sound of ducks (surely they haven't followed us??). Feeling sorry for them, I feed them some bread which really starts them quacking which appears to really piss off the woman coming out of the next van, whom, I judge, is not really a morning person!
Anyway, after upsetting the neighbours and having breakfast overlooking the lake (which appears to be steaming at this time?) we head out on a walk up to the observatory on the summit of Mount St John. A very steep walk up through pine forests and onto open grassland where we spot the biggest rabbit ever! It was in the distance, but I swear it was at least three feet long! As we approach the summit we are treated to views of the snow capped mountains virtually surrounding us. Good job we are wearing the thermal underwear as it is really cold and the ground is frozen solid
Back to the van for some of Carolyn's homemade lentil soup before heading off for another treat, the hot springs on the hillside above the town. These are 3 man-made geo-thermal, mineral springs designed in the shape of the three lakes in the area and each is heated to a different temperature. Sitting and in the hottest pool, looking up at the pine trees and out to the lake and the mountains beyond, I ask myself. Does it get any better than this?
After our soak in the springs we set off to our next destination which is Mount Cook, still in the Mackenzie ranges and is where Sir Edmund Hilary did his training prior to his successful ascent of Mount Everest.