Sunday, April 08, 2012

Christchurch to Lake Ohau, New Zealand – April 7, 2012

There was a small tremor last night in Christchurch that you could feel in the hotel. It is part of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake of February 28, 2011. I only woke up cause things started to fall off the desk and such.

The morning was a big breakfast with 80 Contiki’ers in the mess hall. There were two trips leaving from Christchurch all from the same hotel. One is a longer tour that includes both islands and the other, mine, is a shorter version with just the south island. Seemingly, everyone is from Australia or studying abroad in Australia. I have yet to meet anyone who is just here for the tour.

Our tour manager explained some of the local Kiwi terms:
-       Bro is a common term similar to the Aussie mate
-       Togs are bathing suits
-       Jandals are flip flops – short for Japanese sandals
-       Sweet as means it’s all good

The drive is stunning. New Zealand is one of the most scenic and stunning countries I have been too. The drive to Geraldine, our first stop, was incredible. You saw tons of sheep, farmland, rolling mountains, and then actual mountains along the way. Each window side of the bus had different views.

Geraldine is home to the Guinness World Record for the largest knitted sweater. It is ugly as all sin. The woman who made it was equally ugly. Lunch was found here in a little café called the “Milk Bar”. I assumed it has something to do with the farmland surrounding it. Food was super cheap.

The bus ride from Geraldine to Lake Ohau (our sleeping destination) was spectacular. All of a sudden it was the Southern Alps and three different glacier fed lakes. Very breath taking scenery. Lake Tekapo was a teal clear blue with amazing views of the mountains. Pictures do not do it justice. Lake Pukaki has the backdrop of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps. Mount Cook is New Zealand’s largest peak. Mount Cook had actual snow on it and the Aussies were impressed to actually “see” snow live.

Kiwi’s actually put canals on the sides of the highway to refill the lakes which feed the hydro dams. New Zealand is powered mainly by hydro. They are teal in color and magnificent.

Lake Ohau was the first stop on this tour for sleeping. It is located in the town of Twizle. It is situated in the beginning of the Southern Alps with a view dead center of Mount Cook. It is very remote located. The water is blooming freezing though. I stuck one foot into it and decided against swimming in glacier water.

The hotel has incredible views of the lake. Sunset over the mountains and lake was astonishing. The restaurant over looked the lake facing the South Alps. Dinner was served to our group quite quickly. The menu was beef lasagna, mixed greens, baby potatoes, homemade bread, and a chocolate brownie topped with whipped cream. All in all a good meal.

Tonight’s occupancy is actually twin share due to the hotel constraints. My roommate for this trip is awesome. She goes to University of Arizona as a marketing major studying in the University of New Castle, Australia. We are not big partiers, so this partnership is going to work very well.


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