We were in no rush the following morning as we knew our replacement van would not be able to live up to the high expectations that we now had so we slowly got dressed and ate breakfast. Rather unusually we went into the kitchen to wash up our breakfast things and we came across a table filled with groceries that other people had left behind because their holiday had ended. So we grabbed some coffee (happy Dan), vegemite (even happier Dan), cooking oil, cornflakes, and some herbs and stocked up our larder! Maybe we should visit camp site kitchens in the morning more often!
Begrudgingly we headed to the airport and found the rental place pretty easily. We collected our new van, another Toyota Hiace but an older model, and said goodbye to the Backpacker. We moved across all our belongings and left the airport. The new van had thinner cushions on the seats, which meant the bed was not going to be nearly as comfortable and the windscreen wipers were well and truly stuffed (not the word my husband used by the way!) but we had to make do with what we had so no complaining.
We travelled North a short way to join the Inland Scenic Route 72 and headed West towards Mount Hutt and Mount Cook. I was thoroughly exhausted from yesterdays mammoth drive and didn't sleep particularly well last night so I'm afraid I fell asleep for a couple of hours for the first time on the South Island.
I however did not have that luxury as someone had to drive this heap of rust
(Oiiii!! We said no complaining!!) Sorry, someone had to drive. It was a lovely drive, we passed lots of farms and vineyards, before we climbed up into the mountains.
When we left Christchurch it was grey and overcast but as the day went on and the higher we climbed the clouds dispersed and the sun came out. We had a late lunch as we were waiting for somewhere scenic, which didn't materialise.
By mid afternoon we came to Lake Tekapo, another glorious lake in this beautiful highland region. We got out and stretched our legs while we appreciated the lovely scenery. A little further down the road was Lake Pukaki, which again was gorgeous, but this lake had Mount Cook acting as a backdrop, making it even more special. This is where we turned off the main road and headed towards the village of Mount Cook.
There wasn't a camp site in the actual village, but there was one at the very end of the lake, approximately 20 kilometres from the village. We checked in to the camp site to ensure we had a pitch and then continued down the road to the end. Mount Cook village was ghostly quiet and most holiday homes stood empty. It was evident the summer season hadn't quite started just yet. We drove around the village and got out for a short stroll to marvel over the snowy capped mountains. We didn't think the snow would last much longer in these sunny conditions.
After a short while we drove back to the camp site to find it had been taken over by herd of children who were away on a school trip. Peace and quiet it wasn't! We cooked in the van and kept well away from the cabins but to be fair we didn't hear a peep from them.
Dan and Elles xx