Early morning. I’m cozy in bed, Bob is shaving, and Michael is still asleep in the other room. This place has good lighting and good beds. I hope Michael is as comfortable on his sofa bed.
Today we are heading back up to Queenstown then on to Lake Tekapo. We are planning to visit New Zealand’s Dark Reserve tonight in order to see something of the night sky. I’m curious about the southern cross and other constellations only visible in the the southern hemisphere.
It’s almost 5:00 pm. We’re traveling north from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo where we will hopefully be able to do some stargazing tonight. I’m riding in the back seat of Mike’s Subaru, knitting and watching New Zealand ranches slip by. We’re in a valley very similar in size and appearance to Yakima, with green fields dotted with sheep and cattle, stretching away to the barren looking mountains. The fields here seem to be carrying a higher density of livestock than what we see in Yakima (Mike tells me we are seeing the sheep gathered for the fall sheering.) The same kinds of windbreaks and irrigation rigs that we’ve seen in Yakima span the fields here. The turf is all a vivid green where it is irrigated. Otherwise it is the golden brown of autumn.
It was early evening when we arrived at Lake Tekapo, which turned out to be a collection of shops and restaurants between the lake and Highway 8. We got out and walked around a bit.
This stone church (Church of the Good Shepherd) was flooded with a series of wedding parties having pictures taken, one group after another. I guess it’s a popular wedding chapel.
After it got dark out we left Tekapo and drove about 5 miles into the hills. Mike pulled to the side of the road and we got out to a picture perfect night sky. Mike had the Sky map app on his phone. When he pointed the camera at the Sky Map app identified the constellations. The photo below is courtesy of New Zealand Tourism.
It was close to 10:00pm when we got back in the car and set out to find tonight’s lodging: The Gladstone Grand Hotel in Fairlie, which Google assured us was only 25 miles down the road. When we found it, it did not look very grand, but it oozed period charm. It was built in 1863. The ground floor is the local tavern, with the bar serving as check in desk. The sign-in register was just that — you took a pen and signed your name, no computers. The barkeep took us through the back hall, up a wide flight of stairs with an elegant curved railing, and showed us the centrally located bath, and then showed us to room 12, which boasted a fireplace and 4 single beds. The room looks more like a backpacker’s hostel than a grand hotel, but the beds were clean and comfortable.
Today’s travels started in Te Anau and ended at the Gladstone Grand Hotel in Fairlie, with stopovers in Queenstown and Tekapo. We spent a lot of time in the car.