After breakfast, we packed our daypacks and set out for a day-long sightseeing tour of three lakes—Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, and Lake Ohau. Our plan was to drive to Lake Tekapo first and backtrack to Ohau, which was near our lodge. The three lakes are parallel alpine lakes that run north to south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin.
Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky turquoise color from rock flour, rock that is ground to a fine dust at the headwaters of the surroundings glaciers. The rock flour is suspended in the water and it is what causes the magnificent turquoise blue. To read more about rock flour, check out the links at the end of this blog post.
On the south shore of Lake Tekapo is an iconic stone landmark—the interdenominational Church of the Good Shepherd. Although we arrived early to purposely avoid the tourist crowds, a busload of them were already snapping selfies outside and inside the church, but I did my best to work around them to shoot the photos I wanted.
Before heading back to our rental car, we stopped at Aotea Gifts and I treated myself to a Merino wool poncho, made in New Zealand of course.
From Tekapo, we took State Highway 8, the scenic route to Lake Pukaki. Ever since our 2014 trip, when we hadn’t allowed time to stop at the lake, I couldn’t wait to return to the region so I could snap a few memories. Now was my chance, and I was excited about the opportunity. I love being outdoors, and who wouldn’t in a country like New Zealand?
Last on our lake list was Lake Ohau. On our way there, we had lunch at High Country Salmon and then continued on after taking a few photos of the salmon hatcheries.
We skipped Lake Benmore, as we would see it by air the next day, for we had booked a glider ride in Omarama. Before our trip Down Under in 2014, a friend who was an American Airlines pilot insisted we visit Glide Omarama. We fit the stop into our original plans but didn’t have time for a glider ride. Now we were back and ready to take our first-ever ride.
Back at Matuka Lodge, we fixed a pot of tea and sat on the deck overlooking the pond, soaking up the sun and watching the ducks skim the surface.
For dinner, we had chosen Poppies Cafe in nearby Twizel, a five-minute drive from the lodge. We wanted a quiet, casual dinner, and from the unassuming-looking photos on their website, we had no expectations of the restaurant. So we were pleasantly surprised. We both ordered the Canterbury Lamb Rack, which was very good and the portions large. We had dessert back at the lodge.
We poured ourselves a port and sipped it in the library while we nibbled a slice of Jo’s excellent fruitcake. I’ve never understood how anyone can detest fruitcake. Every Christmas, my paternal grandmother made a much-sought-after fruitcake everyone clamored for. She found herself making dozens and mailing them as gifts. I followed in her footsteps, and although I look forward to making her rich, dark, moist cake, most of all I look forward to eating it. Now I have Jo’s recipe and can add it to my baking list during the holidays.