Day 161, January 16th
The day begins like any other, we wake up as the sunshine begins to hit the car. Pinata turns into a toaster and we decide we’d rather get roasted then be cooked alive. We roll out of bed and out of the van, grab our toothbrushes and head for the bathroom. This is where things begin to look a little different. In this Holiday Park the main ablutions building we are near is unisex. Men and women sharing a single bathroom is a major social experiment that grabs the intrigue of two American adults that have only ever experienced the restrictively gender separated bathrooms in large-scale. Truth be told this type of bathroom is common in New Zealand, but only in small-scale. This is the largest version we have seen to date. We have heard all the speculation following the “bathroom” issues in America about how terrible it would be to have two genders in a single bathroom. We have speculated ourselves as to how it would actually work out. The conclusion? Everybody keeps their heads down and minds their own business. Every bathroom and shower stall is fully enclosed with full doors. No one lingers and any staff or camp member can enter the building at any time. The holiday park does have a second ablutions block with separated gender bathrooms about 500 meters away, but it turns out people are more concerned about proximity to their campsites than seeing the opposite gender washing their hands!
Having managed to enjoy Mt. John the previous evening we decided to go ahead and jump into another moderate three-hour long hike along the Lake Tekapo Peninsula. The walk starts at the base of Mt. John then walks northward toward the peninsula. The views improve as you climb up onto the top of the peninsula then over it onto the lakeside.
As we reached the edge of the cliffs we found a spot to scramble down then walked along the water’s edge for a few hundred meters before locating the “hidden” Whitecliffs of Tekapo. These bright white cliffs are invisible from the tourist township, so few people know they are there to even begin venturing to find them! New Zealand is truly unique and incredible that even though there is a fascinating display of natural beauty near a massive tourist town, few tourists will ever lay eyes on them, much less set foot near them! As we reached the cliffs the Alpine influenced clouds rolled speedily in, so the white of the cliffs didn’t “pop” out, but Jonathan did scavenge a piece of the white rock to discover that it can be written with as though it were chalk!
Walking along the coast, the cliffs soon disappear entirely and you are left with a boring pebble beach and a lot of prickly gorse! The only two ways to get back up the cliffs are to scramble through the gorse or go back the way we came. We weren’t in the mood for backtracking so we plowed up, through all the painful flora! At least neither of us were wearing shorts! Oh wait, Amelia was… ouch! The journey continued as the loop finished around the peninsula then walked back over the headlands the way we came. It is apparent that our time here has made us scarier as all the bunnies scurried frantically away at the mere sight of us! Come back, Bugs, we just want to hold you! And then club you on the head because you are a massive pest in this country! Oh… maybe we are scarier after all. Never mind that, look at our pretty pictures!
Back at the campsite we rested the rest of the day as the cloudy weather broke and gave way to the extreme heat that comes with the South Island sunshine. We hung the tarp up to try to capture a small amount of shade in the ever-growing expanse of mind-bendingly sharp sunlight! Luckily, unlike Houston, even in the hottest of days shade makes the temperatures far more bearable.