Day 160, January 15th
Ready for a 5 hour, +2000 stair climb to 600 vertical meters??? Yeah, neither are we. Jonathan’s exact question at the breakfast table was “Okay, which one of us is going to say it?” Remembering keenly the mistakes made at Robert’s Point at the Franz Josef Glacier, Amelia piped up “I don’t want to do the Sealy Tarn tramp.” Neither did Jonathan! Instead we’ll leave our very beautiful mountain and enjoy the clear sunny weather on the shore of Lake Pukaki. Lake Pukaki is Amelia’s favorite lake, for good reason! What reason? Uh, well, because it’s blue… gorgeous glacier blue…
At the trail end, we enjoyed the jaw dropping views in the best way, swimming! What is the point of this once in a life time adventure if we’re not going to embrace the whole experience? The glacier lake water was pretty cold, but since the water isn’t churning or moving too fast the water along the shoreline is able to warm up in the sunlight.
We elected for the backroad from Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo. Turns out we disagree with the author of our guidebook as to what can qualify as a “well-made, well-maintained gravel road.” Road quality aside, we had the whole east coast of Lake Pukaki to ourselves. This coast far better shows off the stunning blue lake with the mountain backdrop opposed to the other three more touristed coastlines.
After driving about three-quarters of the length of the lake we turn right and upward, leaving the gorgeous green scenery to be met with arid scenery that could be found in Arizona or New Mexico! If you look just left of the center of the picture, along the horizon the peak of Mt. Cook can still be seen!
Our last stop of the day was almost an afterthought and we squeaked through the gates just before the last visitors were admitted for the day. The steep road to the top the Mt. John Observatory had us alternating between threats and flattery to coerce continued good behavior from the Pinata. Mt. John is referred to as “roche mountonnee”, which means it is an island of rock shoved into place by the glacier movement. This gives Mt. John a unique viewpoint that is unobstructed all around! Absolutely stunning views of Lake Tekapo, Lake Alexandrina, and the Mackenzie high country laid out before us! Glorious!
Just like Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo is glacier fed, so that beautiful blue is prevalent. Lake Alexandrina, on the right of the picture below, is fed by rainwater, so it maintains a “regular” blue color. Check out this Google Maps Satellite image and our picture below to see the difference: