Tuesday 27 May 2014

Easter and Anzac day lined up this year: with three days leave, you could get ten days off work. So Jesse and I went to the South Island.

We flew into Christchurch, and the next day drove out of town.

Somewhere in the South Island. Lots of cloud.

Snowcapped mountains in the South Island, with some kind of weird cloud thing going on.

A mountain and a lake in the South Island.

We stayed in the backpacker's in Aoraki, which was rundown but clean, with a small, sagging bed and a sad looking TV. I really liked the curtains.

Amazing vintage curtains.

There were only three places to eat in town, and we were in one, so we headed to the bar. 

Stuffed deer head wearing sunglasses and a scarf.

It reminded us both of Shadows, but less sticky. 

We ordered dinner and a jug of beer. After an hour, we had finished the beer, and I asked where the food was. Delayed - they were busy. We were served an apology and a free just of beer. They were playing rugby on the projector, and Jesse explained some of the rules. I decided I supported the red team. The game finished, and another one started. We received another jug of apology-beer before our meals came nearly two and a half hours after we ordered them. It could have been awful, but instead it was marvellous. 

The next day was Easter. No where was open for breakfast. We ate hot cross buns, and drank water, and went for a walk.

View from the backpackers in Aoraki National Park.

Going for a walk in Aoraki National Park.

Going for a walk in Aoraki National Park.

Going for a walk in Aoraki National Park.

Going for a walk in Aoraki National Park.

Going for a walk in Aoraki National Park.

That's Aoraki/Mt Cook!

That's Aoraki/Mt Cook! And a glacier lake!

That's Aoraki/Mt Cook! Zoomed in a bit!

Aoraki came out for us. Apparently it's not all that common to get a look at the mountain.

A cairn in front of Aoraki.
We saw some stacked stones, which I have opinions about.

That's a glacier.

Me, doing a dumb pose, pointing at a mountain.

There's a river, with some stones, and a glacier.

There's a river, and some stones. No glacier in this pic, sorry.

We crossed that river on a suspension bridge.

Looking down at my feet on a suspension bridge, the river far below.

The view was worth it.

That's a mountain range.

That's a mountain range.

There's a shed with no windows in this beautiful landscape.

This said: Site Office. Imagine having a view like that and no windows. 

Next up, we went to Lake Tekapo, which I've wanted to take a look at ever since I first saw photos. 

Orange trees, blue lake, blue sky.

Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo, with some mountains.

It was crisp, but so cold.

The Church of the Good Shepard at Lake Tekapo.

The famous Church of the Good Shepard is a living church, which I didn't know. 

View from inside The Church of the Good Shepard at Lake Tekapo.

It was easter, but the only people in it when we visited were tourists. 

The outside of The Church of the Good Shepard at Lake Tekapo.

The outside of The Church of the Good Shepard at Lake Tekapo.

More standing stones at Lake Tekapo.

Jesse at Lake Tekapo.

We headed on to Te Anau, arriving after dark. The next day, we took a walk by the lake. 

Lake Te Anau, looking cold and grey.

Looking over Lake Te Anau.

Lake Te Anau: with clouds this time.

It was grey, but the colours were still beautiful. 

More orange trees.

Jess tweeting about my incessant instagraming, probably.

Going for a walk around Lake Te Anau.

No one else was around: it felt like the whole town was set up just for us.

Cheese roll selfie. NOT EVEN SORRY.

We even found a cafe that served cheese rolls.

We took a bus trip to Milford Sound. I'd organised that: it wasn't the cheapest way to get there, but less stressful than driving ourselves, and the trip was well organised. We stopped and took photos in all the required spots.

This is a popular place to take photos.

It's a big field, basically.

Mirror Lakes. There's a sign which is written in mirror image, and it's reflected in the lake so it reads properly.

Oh yes, that's very droll. 

Big old hill near Mirror Lakes.

Big old hill near Mirror Lakes.

The Sounds were beautiful. Our bus trip met up with a boat trip; the cruise was amazing. 

Milford Sound, looking all pretty.

A waterfall in Milford Sound.

Hills in Milford Sound.

Seal pups in Milford Sound.

We saw seal pups. 

Milford Sound, South Island.

The boat nosed up to a waterfall to make rainbows. 

A waterfall making a rainbow in Milford Sound.

A waterfall making a rainbow in Milford Sound.

A waterfall in Milford Sound

A boat taking a cruise in Milford Sound.

Sunlight on the water in Milford Sound.

Kayakers in Milford Sound.

One of the boat staff came up and tapped me on the shoulder. "Hi!!" she said. We'd gone to high school together. "What have you been up to since then?" she said. 
That wasn't a question I felt I could answer, so I mumbled: "You know, this mostly," and all at once felt ridiculous at the lie. 
"Taking photos?"
"Um, not professionally. How about you?"  I used her name, having the advantage of her name tag.
She'd gone to film school, and having graduated in 2008, hadn't been able to find work in the industry. "I live here, in Milford Sound, behind the pub, and work on boats."
"Do you enjoy it?"
"I get to go snowboarding on weekends," she said. "You know, you're the first person I've seen who I've known since working here." She never used my name. I guess she's forgotten it (that's fine - I'd forgotten hers except for the name tag). 
"It was so nice to see you," she said. 

Steep hills and black water in Milford Sound.

Pretty hills, Milford Sound.

The edge of Milford Sound.

Pretty hills, Milford Sound.

The photos I'd seen had played up the blues and greens of the Sounds. In person, the deep water was an inky black. The water's so deep - a hundred kilometres down or more. It was all carved out by glaciers, a Rubin's vase of a landscape, all negative space.

Steep hills carved out by glaciers in Milford Sound.

Pretty hills, Milford Sound.

Same damn photo of Milford Sound. Hills and water.

It was beautiful. Could I live there? I don't think I could.

I drove us from Te Anau to Queenstown. We arrived after dark, and I was frazzled with the stress of it. Country roads don't have streetlights: it felt like I had driven with my eyes closed.

Queenstown is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, surely. The lake ringed by mountains. 

Tussock grass at Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.

Jesse near Tussock grass at Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.

More tussock grass at Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.

It had been a few years since I'd visited, and even I could tell the outer suburbs have grown. 

Queenstown from the top of the gondolas.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown from the top of the gondolas.

Jess posing at the top of the gondolas, Queenstown.

Me posing at the top of the gondolas, Queenstown.

We took the gondola to the top of the hill and road the luge. It was absurd. I hadn't laughed so much in months. 

Jess drove us out to Glenorchy. I was glad I didn't have to make the drive: the road was winding and twisting. They'd only put it in in the sixties. Before then, Glenorchy was only accessible by boat. 

Lake Wakatipu from Glenorchy.

The boat shed at Glenorchy.

The boat shed is a replica: it burned down in the 90s and was rebuilt. It's not really used for much anymore. 

Lake Wakatipu from Glenorchy.

Lake Wakatipu from Glenorchy.

Lake Wakatipu from Glenorchy.

It looked like a film set, because it is. Top of the Lake was filmed around the corner. I couldn't get through more than a few episodes, because it was just too depressing. Beautiful though. 

A path leading away into the distance, lined with orange trees.

Horse riders in front of some mountains, near Glenorchy.

This is the ruin of a hotel which burned down in the fifties. We know that because at some point they just stopped cleaning up and put up a sign instead. It's right on the main street too. 

Ruins in Glenorchy.

We both liked the petrol station. 

The Glenorchy petrol station (not ruins).

We took a drive out to Wanaka, and stopped along the way to take photos. 

Half a dozen tourists with tripods standing in a line, taking the same damn picture.

The vista they were photographing (it is excellent).

It was beautiful. Wanaka was beautiful. 

Lake Wanaka.

Jesse at Lake Wanaka.

We went to Puzzling World, which was well worth the entry fee. We got lost in the maze, and found our way out again by trailing a french girl. I didn't want to go home. 

Lake Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka.

Speaking to friends about the trip, the said things, "That sounds amazing," and "I'm so jealous," which is ridiculous. The South Island is right there, it's practically local. You should go. Everyone should go. It's beautiful.


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