The trip from the Tasman River Delta at the top end of Lake Pukaki to Tekapo was very windy but without incident. We remembered our last trip here and that it was also very windy, however the NZMCA Park is sheltered with many pine trees growing in and around. We spent a bit of time searching out a spot clear of falling pine cones to park. Unfortunately the trees prevented us from getting TV but the vans either side could. No problem, watch some DVDs or read.
We spent a couple of days here. The first was wet and the sky covered in cloud but the second was far better with the wind dying down, the sun coming out and by evening a beautiful McKenzie Basin clear, cool, dark, cloud free sky. Just perfect for sky gazing. This area is world renoun for this and there is an observatory on top of Mount John on the shores of Lake Tekapo. I spent a wee while outside looking upwards before the night chill drove me back inside the caravan.
Looking over the incredibly blue lake of Tekapo to the Mt John Observatory. The observatory is situated on the highest flat area of Mt John.
The area known as McKenzie Basin is named after James McKenzie, a sheep rustler active in the 1850’s. Farmers looking for 1000 lost sheep discovered them in the care of James and his dog Friday. He was sentenced to 5 years hard labour in 1855 for sheep rustling, escaped a couple of times and in 1856 a new judge found inconsistencies in the original trial and pardoned him. And so the legend of James McKenzie was born.
This statue is not of Friday, but was erected by the runholders of the McKenzie Basin in remembering the input of the collie sheepdog, without whom sheep farming would be almost impossible in this district.
We travelled down to Fairlie and had lunch. If you are in Fairlie I would recommend the place. And then about twelve km out from Fairlie is the Opua Lake and three different freedom camping areas. We chose the southern one mainly because it had a loo but we had a look at the other two and the northern one is the more sheltered and flatter one. It also has a loo, a long drop. The lake levels are well down as are all the other lakes though this one seemed to be at a minimum level. The outlet dam has a hydro generator installed and though I thought I could hear it spinning I would doubt much electricity would be generated with the lake at its present level.
We have spent a few nights in freedom camping areas and have found them to be good places to stay. Most have had loos, both permanent and tempory. The overseas tourists in their little hire vans arrive before dusk and appear to be all well behaved. As long as loos are provided and the areas patrolled from time to time all should be OK.
Today, Saturday, we have moved on to Geraldine where we will be house sitting for all of April. My next post will probably contain some photos of some of the animals we shall be looking after. We also have some plans for some minor alterations to make the caravan a little more comfortable.