Ben and Kirsteen's World Trip 2005/6 travel blog

K and the car known as "Stig" in front of the Southern...

K with Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook behind

B with Sir Edmund Hillary

Aoraki - the cloud piercer

K on the way back from Mt Cook (as seen in LoTR)

K amongst the lupins

The extremely fit paraglider

View of Lake Tekapo from the top of our walk

Mt Cook without the clouds

Picture postcard perfect

B: We drove from Christchurch towards the southern alps over undulating landscapes. At one point we rounded a corner to see the Alps for the first time. The view was so good that we stopped the car for photos. Purple, pink and yellow lupins were growing all along the road (these are apparently a pest in NZ although we never found out why), the sky was blue and the nearest dwelling or car miles away.

We arrived at Mt Cook to a stunning day and walked upto the glacial moraine for a better look. Mt Cook in Maori is Aoraki which means cloud-piercer. We got a photo of the peak above the cloud line to prove it! The drive back also provided so spectacular views of Mt Cook behind Lake Pukaki.

That evening we signed up for star gazing at a nearby telescope. This area of NZ has the least light and air pollution in the country and, as it was a perfectly clear night, we could see all the stars in the sky. We found the Southern Cross and learnt about other stars not visible in the northern hemisphere.

The following day we went on a walk up the hill next to Lake Tekapo. On our way up the endless switchbacks of the path we were overtaken by a man taking the direct route i.e. straight up across the path. He was carrying a rucksack as big as himself. K and I looked at each other panting and decided he must be very fit. When we arrived at the top, we saw him again. His pack had held his paraglider which he was now billowing in preparation for take-off. The rest of the walk was now downhill and past along the edge of Lake Tekapo. It was beautiful and we both enjoyed the views and the tranquility.

The day was finished off with a game of tennis at the hostel's court. We went to bed tired and slept well.

K: It really was so beautiful, the landscape so impressive you think it must be fake because it can't be real. Unfortuanately its a long road and you need to learn to take your toilet breaks at every available opportunity, or else you are just really glad its a quiet stretch of road ;o)

We had tried to do the star gazing thing in Kaikoura but it had been cancelled but this time we were lucky as it was an amazingly clear night. Damn cold though, I had on multiple layers of clothes but I was still freezing. Luckily, the tour operators carry spare blankets so Ben and I were wrapped up like blanket monsters and walking like penguins trying not to expose any flesh!

It was a stunning night and I have never seen so many stars. We got to look through a 15 inch telescope and some things where much clearer but others it really was a case of using your imagination - such as the surface features of Mars? ahem, I saw a orange blob but many shooting stars to wish on!

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