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The solitude of Mackenzie country

Posted by on January 6, 2013

We have just spent 3 glorious days in Mackenzie country, the district known for its glacial lakes and extensive sheep and cattle farming. The first 2 days were spent at Lake Tekapo, a small town whose main attraction is its phenomenal scenery. The last day was spent near Mount Cook and at Glentanner Station on the coast of Lake Pukaki. These turquoise lakes against the backdrop of the snow-capped Southern Alps are breathtaking. (And the weather was stunning! Yay!)

In the past 10 years, Lake Tekapo has grown (as have many towns in New Zealand), with more tourists visiting each year. All this meant for Jeff and I was that we had to try that slightest bit harder to shake off the tourists and find what I love most about New Zealand….the solitude.

Happily it didn’t take much effort at all. We headed off the main road to an isolated part of the lake. Jeff fished, I read. We ate, we drank, then we settled into our campsite.

The next day was much of the same, except that we continued farther down the lake…which ended up being 20km down a gravel road. With each passing kilometer, we were looking for the perfect place to fish and just “be” in peace. The road teased us, always slightly too far away from the shore. Finally, nearing the end and crossing into what we thought might be private property, as we looked for a place to turn Sunshine around (not easy on small roads), like a mirage in the desert a road to the lake shore appeared before us.  It was meant to be. [Jeff’s moral of this story is: If you think you’re on private property, ask for forgiveness later! Hmmmm.]

We parked alongside the lake shore and spent hours fishing, reading, having some lunch and just enjoying, before heading up to Mt. John Observatory, to drink in the spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and town. After a lovely coffee and decadent fudge slice at the Observatory Café, we headed back down to the lake to read, lay in a hammock, and fish. It’s a hard life.

The next day was much of the same, but in a different locale. We took our time getting from Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook on Lake Pukaki. This drive usually takes an hour or so…for us it took at least 3. Such is the way of traveling with Jeff and I. We don’t move fast. And we take a lot of photos.

The weather was brilliant and Mount Cook was stunning. I am fascinated by Mt. Everest and all things climbing related…but I can barely look at a mountain that high without feeling faint, much less imagine climbing it. Aaaack! So we viewed her with awe and fascination, paid our tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, and then happily retreated about 15km back down the road to Glentanner to camp for the night.

Our time spent in the Mackenzie country was slow and beautiful. And besides the scenery, what I love about this area is that it still looks untouched and that its not overdeveloped. (It would be easy to see million dollar houses or cookie cutter condos here. I hope it never happens.)

Needless to say, this was a welcome change from the blustery start to our campervan trip! Hope you enjoy the pix!

Mackenzie Country

[img src=]2420Church of the Good Shepherd
This lovely little church is a tourist hotspot at Lake Tekapo. Its placement and backdrop make a wonderful photograph, but it makes it very difficult to get the church without tourists in the photo. This is our attempt :)
[img src=]1320What a backdrop for Sunshine...
This was our view at the end of Lake Tekapo, which we had to ourselves to fish, read, etc.
[img src=]1340Sunshine and the Alps
This was the view in the opposite direction.
[img src=]1290View from Mt. John's Observatory
The view from the observatory was stunning and overlooked the lakes, mountains, and Lake Tekapo township.
[img src=]1290Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps
An example of the turquoise waters, with a deer farm in the foreground.
[img src=]1270Lupines abound
Lupines grow wild around Lake Tekapo, making the scenery even more beauiful.
[img src=]1240Spillway at Lake Pukaki
Over half of New Zealand's power comes from hydroelectric sources, so it's understandable why a lot of rain (or lack thereof) makes the news. The torrential downpours earlier in the week required that some of the spillways be opened (as pictured here). Campers downstream were warned of possible flooding.
[img src=]1250A glacial valley on the way to Mount Cook
[img src=]1210Mount Cook on a clear, sunny day. Brilliant!
Mount Cook is the highest mountain in NZ at 3754 metres (12,316 ft).
[img src=]1240Jeff fishing at Mount Cook
Jeff's had some pretty scenic fishing holes this week!

5 Responses to The solitude of Mackenzie country

  1. Kim

    I almost didn’t leave a comment, because the pictures have left me without words. All that I can say is wow, wow, and wow! You have blown my little mind! How will you ever leave again??

    P.s. Alex is not entirely without words…he’s wondering where are the fish pictures…boys.ha!

  2. Bob

    Just keeps getting better and better. Beautiful pictures! We will send you some from Mt Rushmore, hoping for June.

  3. cam

    wow, these are beautiful photos! true Lord of Rings country :) Enjoy your trip, and make sure you equally enjoy my side of the ditch!

    • Jen

      Ha! Your side of the ditch is bloody H-O-T!!! The heat wave has it about 42 (degC) in Melbourne and we heard a guy today say 49 in Perth. I’ve never heard of temps that hot! I fear we may melt in Melbourne. But we’re looking forward to it, nonetheless!

  4. Diane

    I love the photo of “Sunshine” in this post. :-)

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