Dark grey wafting clouds smudged the mountain tops as the curtains were pulled in the third-bedroom. The sound of the intermittent squally rain pounded the cabin. Then it didn’t.
Decisions were needing to be rendered as to how we should spend the next couple of days on the road. The Thirsty Thursday crew had extended an invitation for us to join them in Queenstown. The first night neighbour was encouraging us to join them in Tapanui, further south. Staying another night at the same place to do absolutely nothing was as equally attractive.
But the NZMCA parking space we backed into with a new view through covering pine trees down to Lake Tekapo won our picture framed setting.
Mt John Observatory rose up across the lake. We couldn’t see it from the third-bedroom, however, absolutely could as we sat at a lakeside picnic table watching the sun sink behind it.
We were surprised at the lack of population out and about enjoying what we were witnessing, given the hordes of mobile accommodations sharing this slice of paradise. Perhaps the heavy rain earlier in the day the reason. Cold bones wanting the warmth of indoors on the dusk.
Tekapo is a popular tourist spot (227 kms from Christchurch) with SH8 dissecting the township. For us, it’s usually a drive through or the occasional stop for a pee. The fading light too took us indoors to hibernate and rest the weary bodies from the Dunstan Trail adventure.
It was back on the mountain bikes the next morning to explore. We rode left skirting the lake front. Lupins were in full colour with pinks and purples and whites.
A public toilet where you had to pay wave $1.50 to use was certainly a first. Still is a first too as we refuse to pay to piss. Dogs, cats, goats, horses, sheep, birds, cows and every other species don’t get afforded such a tax to pee and poo – why the hell should we? So always carry a roll of toilet paper and if nature calls, try to be discreet, cover a turd for permanence, and empty out away from water sources. Or in our case, find the next public toilet which was further around the lake front towards the Tekapo Hot Pools.
The hill side was being cleared behind the pools. Track signage showed a route up to the Mt John Observatory. Initial thoughts were to lock up the bikes and hike up however, a walker with children offered advice that it’s only steep initially and is bikeable once into the pines.
Not judging, our trust in fat bellies took a turn for distrust when we humped and pushed the bikes up and into the pines, only to find we had to hump and push the things nearly to the summit. It gave the calf muscles some stretching.
The rewarding view from the observatory was absolutely panoramic beauty. Up the lake towards the top end mountain range was a canvas of squally rain. Every other direction was as far as the eye could see. We could make out the whites of campers and caravans in our picture frame location as we sat at a picnic table on top of the world and feast on a savoury muffin and cuppa. The café is awesome.
Our return route was virtually dropping straight off the observation point to follow a track on the farmland towards the Southern Alps. It curled back around at the end of the peninsula, and we eventually did a complete circle arriving back at the hot pools. It was bouldery in parts but doable. Follow the horse poo as horse trekking shares the track.
It was back to the third-bedroom and new neighbours had parked up. Another opportunity to greet, meet and swap nomad life on the road over a beer and wine. Not as much as previous nights.
But just enough to be in a happy space to ponder a return back to Tekapo in the third-bedroom to explore some more.
Footnote: There is a wonderful sit-down toilet 280 footsteps from the northern end of the NZMCA camping ground. It’s serviced, has toilet paper until you bum is content and, no charge.