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Star Gazing in Lake Tekapo

Oct 27th to Nov 1

The drive from Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park to Lake Tekapo took just over an hour at 95km. We checked in at Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park and had a nice plot to pitch the tent. The amenities were all good, kitchen fine, hot unlimited showers, living area and you could see the lake at the bottom of the park, just a minutes stroll there. Also on site was Tekapo Springs, a natural hot spring which had been developed into different pools. We went on and picked up some discount vouchers to spend a day relaxing in the hot pools, but first we had to earn the reward by hiking up the Mt John Walkway, which was a 3 hour return loop track up to the summit of Mount John at 1,021 metres.

The track started at the end of our campsite and next to the Hot Springs there is a sign and a clearing in the forest. The climb to start with is quite demanding with a steep climb in the trees, then winding up to the plateau where the trees turn to hill tops, the wind picked up and we enjoyed it for a moment. We took time to admire the views below of Lake Tekapo, mountains, including the peak of Mt Cook which was by now far in the distance, the Mackenzie Basin and beyond, it was so picturesque, we then carried on over the hills stopping for coffee and cake and then heading back down.

Mt John has an observatory at the top and is part of the University of Canterbury for Physics and Astronomy. Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing, and it is said to actually be one of the worlds top stargazing spots. The best time to visit would be April to September when the Southern hemisphere's equivalent to the Northern Lights comes out in all its glory filling the sky with a symphony of colours. We spent our nights visiting the lake side and capturing the vivid and stunning Milky Way.

As promised we visited the Tekapo Springs which has five hot pools ranging from 28 to 39 degrees overlooking the beautiful Lake Tekapo. Full price it would be $25pp and we got 50% off our entry tickets.

It was the rugby world cup final whilst we were there with the All Blacks versus their rivals Australia which was being held in the UK, so we woke up around 4am to watch the game in a very crowded local bar. New Zealand became the winners of the Rugby World Cup for a record third time, beating Australia 34–17!

The actual lake is an intense milky- turquoise colour from the grounded glaciers, we took some time to relax on the shore and admire the views.

On the shores of the lake is the beautiful and famous Church of the Good Shepherd. The church was built in 1935 for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie district and is still used as a place of worship. The church is a popular photo spot for visitors.

Close by is the "sheepdog monument" - a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district's debt to the sheepdog "without the help of which the grazing of the mountainous country would be impossible".