The drive from Lake Pukaki was about an hour so it was still early when we got here. We decided we would stay at a site and hook up to get everything charged, laundry done and get showered. There was only one site in the town, next to the lake, called Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park. It was $20 each a night for hook up, then $2 for a 10 min shower and then pay to do laundry too. We couldn't check in until 12pm so we went to see the town and sights first.
Lake Tekapo is a hydro lake, 710m above sea level, and is a turquoise blue colour as a result of the rock flour from the glaciers at the lakes headwaters. We visited the Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1935 in memory of the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country. The church overlooks the lake and the huge glass window behind the altar looks out over the lake. We also saw the sheep dog statute built in 1968 by the run-holders of the Mackenzie Country as a tribute to the collie dogs who helped with the grazing of the mountain country. The small town had all the normal things, one petrol station, one shop, some cafés and restaurants. It was a nice little town that was in walking distance of the campground.
The campsite was nice and looked right out over the lake. It was at the bottom of Mt John, where most of the walks in the area went from and where the observatory was at the top of the mount. We had a walk into town once we had settled in and had some tea and scones looking out over the lake. On the way we found two zip wires over-looking the lake which were fun! Back at our van we relaxed for the day and got all our laundry sorted. The sky was too cloudy once the sun set for us to see any stars, which is a shame as Lake Tekapo is still within the dark sky reserve.
On the 14th we relaxed for the morning and skyped mum and dad and Claire and Arron. Dads clot has shrunk by half which is fantastic news! We did the Mt John Summit walk from our camp, around 2 hours return. At the summit there is the Observatory which has the biggest telescopes in New Zealand and where Canterbury university carries out it's research on the nights sky from and where they do tours. There was a cafe at the top where we sat and enjoyed lunch and the views. The views from the top were magnificent- one of the best! The weather was very clear and we got views of the southern alps and the peak of Mount Cook, the Mackenzie Basin and Lake Tekapo. There was even more snow on the mountains so it was brilliant- very windy though!! The skies stayed clear for some of the night and we got another great night of star watching. It wasn't as good as Lake Pukaki because of the lights from the campsite, but it was the second best nights sky we have seen and we still saw shooting stars, lots of constellations and the Milky Way.
On the 15th we set off on our long drive to the other side of the Alps- about 70km away from us but we have to go up and round the alps for a 479km (297mile) drive.