Day 6 was again a travel day for the most part, but this time we had a destination that we would be at for 2 whole nights.
We woke up in our little mountain AirBnb home in Little River outside of Christchurch to find that our host left us breakfast on the porch table. This cemented the stay as my best AirBnb experience ever.
After an emotional goodby with Vodka (the lamb, not the handle), we set off for Lake Tekapo. This drive would be taking us about 3 hours inland, and after Lake Tekapo we'd be heading an additional hour north to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand.
Side note: The time it takes to get places here really has no predictable correlation to the number of kilometers away it is. In the U.S. (Midwest specifically), if something is 70 miles away then I'd assume it would take me one hour or less by interstate. In New Zealand, the majority of roads are two-lane highways with occasional passing lanes, but they tend to be so winding that you couldn't pass anyway. For example, the last hour going from Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook said it was 24 miles (38.6 km) but the estimated driving time was 1 hour and 15 minutes.
We arrived at Lake Tekapo, the location of the last real town before heading into the Southern Alps and Mt.Cook. We quickly realized this was a popular tourist destination, as the place was crawling with tour buses unloading and picking up their passengers at one spot along the lake, which was at the Church of the Good Shepherd.
The church is a small stone building that overlooks the lake and the Southern Alps beyond that. The lake was a very pretty shade of blue that can be attributed to rock being ground down by glacial action and held in a soupy suspension.
We took several pictures but we were hungry and wanted to throw rocks at all the other tourists (because yes, we are hypocrites), so we took off for Mt. Cook after eating a bountiful meal of Sour Patch Kids and salt and vinegar chips.
The best surprise of the day came about 30 minutes past Lake Tekapo and still 30 minutes away from Mt. Cook, and that surprise was Lake Pukaki.
We drove over a massive hill and once we saw the lake we pulled over as soon as the road would allow. Multiply the color of blue I mentioned above by 100 and that was the color of Lake Pukaki.
Turquoise would be the best way to describe it. I don't know how many times we looked at each other and said "why is no one here?" Our only guess is that travel books (including ours) don't bother mentioning it because most people aren't staying in Mt. Cook Village but instead stopping at Lake Tekapo and then heading to Queenstown. There's nothing better than "stumbling" on something so amazing.
we rolled into Mt. Cook village, which is very small with only a few accommodations (I booked our hotel back in May). It was a sunny day but Mt. Cook was covered up with that they call "cloud shroud," and apparently it's pretty common.
It was such a nice night that we decided to do an evening hike down the road to look at the Tasman Glacier. At the top was a pretty cool sight with a helpful sign that told us what we were actually looking at. To our surprise, we not only could see the Tasman Glacier (kind of just looks like dirty snow), but could see the backside of Mt. Cook as well.
This morning we woke up to cold, rainy weather so we won't be seeing the mountain today, but maybe tomorrow before head further south.