12.11.2011 - 13.11.2011 24 °C
After a banging on Hectors side door at 6am from a smurf looking Guru wrapped up in a blue snow coat to say goodbye, we packed up our bed and had a light breakfast in the lodge before setting out.
Not far from the lodge there was a sign pointing to a walk to a waterfall, this looked too good to pass up. Parking in a nearby field the access to the path was a short walk back down the road. The start of the path was easy but got steadily muddier as the falls got closer. The walk seemed to end at a small stream but a friendly german guy informed us if we tip toed up the stream on some of the stones we could get right to the base of the waterfall. Jayne as usual just ploughed into the water up to her ankles (to the amusement of a few watching trampers), well I hopped and skipped my way to the waterfall managing to keep everything nice and dry. The falls were very pretty and after a short break we made our way back to Hector using a different route. This route was far muddier and steep which amused Jayne as I again endeavoured to keep everything dry.
Back in Hector our next destination was Lake Tekapo where the lonely planet guide informed us there was a fantastic statue of a famous sheepdog!? The statue was indeed impressive, so much so that we drove straight past without stopping and headed to the lake. Now the lake WAS impressive. Huge, surrounded by mountains and bright blue water, it was stunning .
Parking outside a YHA so that I could steel some internet time kept me busy while Jayne ran up a nearby mountain called John that had an observatory on top (Apparently this is one of the best places in the world to view the night sky). Deciding we would rather move on towards Mount Cook than stare at the stars we fired up Hector and continued south.
The roads were again stunning. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. To the right of us was the Lake stretching out into the distance and to the left of us were dark grey mountains with snowy peaks.
Arriving at the campsite we realised you had to self register which consisted of filling in a form, posting some money into a hole and attaching a ticket to your windscreen. We scrambled around and using every last penny managed to get the $12 required and parked up. Light was fading but we managed to cook up a hearty meal of baked beans, sausages and cheese before sitting in the van with the back door open watching the sun go down over the mountains.
Woke up quite early so both decided to do a run. We started off together but Jayne quickly disapeared off into the distance (bloody show off!). The run was beautiful and took us up a narrow rocky path to a nearby look out point, but the cloud was very low so not much of a view at all. Back at the camper van first (no I didnt beat her, I just took a shorter route!) I got changed and got Hector back into travel mode from sleepy mode. A short drive round the corner to a public shelter allowed us to have a warm cup of coffee and a shower. Now then, I have to explain this shower experience as it was not entirely normal, although it was entirely free! As the water for the shower was cold we decided to have our first go at using our solar shower. A solar shower is basically a big bag you fill with water, leave in the sun for a few hours, then climb a tree hook it up and bingo, nice warm shower. Atleast thats the intended use. We decided that it would be far easier to use the tea making machine to provide hot water into the bag, we would then add cold water from the tap and hey presto warm shower. Filling the huge 18 litre bag was fun and not that easy, but we managed to get the water temp just right. Off we ran into the shower room now with this huge black bag full of water. Once in there the highest point was the shower rail so I managed to lash it to that, which we then found out meant you had to kneel on the floor to get it to work. Oh my days the next 20 mins was the funniest shower experience ever. Taking it in turns to kneel on the floor well the other person pointed a shower head the size of a 10 pence piece at you well you furiously tried to wash yourself. I am so looking forward to using it again if only for comedic value!
Nice and clean(ish) and fed I choose a walk for us to do. It was listed as a moderate climb (note the word climb was used) which would have amazing views and would take approx 4 hours return. Off we tramped along gentle paths and wooded walkways for about 45 mins and I was thinking 'this is a bit easy'. Then the path started to rise upwards steeper. The path seemed to end and we were met by a rocky boulder field. We started to climb up them and after 10 minutes or so saw a hint of some old wooden steps so assumed we were heading on the right path .
The steps were many and steep and at points the gaps were so tall you had to haul yourself up with your arms. They went on, and on....and on...for about an hour until again more rock climbing and endless older looking steps again and again, it was bloody knackering!
We finaly reached a point (somewhere above the snow line) after nearly 2 hours where I looked on and said 'no way am I going any further!'. The path was about as wide as my foot with loose rock underfoot, crumbling rock to hold on to at my left and a sheer drop to my right. I mustered up the courage for one more push, after a short rest clinging to the side of the mountain and Jayne screeching at me like a demented drill instructor that we must go on! Around the corner was more of the same BUT after a short while and over a few rocks a water fall popped into sight and the top was visible.
The view from the top was indeed worth the effort and the terror getting there.
You could see 2 Glaciers and the summit of Mount Cook really clearly.
Several cheese sandwiches later we took the same route back down. It seemed easier going down as you knew what was coming and each step took me closer to sea level and the relative comfort of Hector.
4 hours after setting off we did indeed arrive back to a welcoming Hector who we got to pose for a few photos infront of the mountains.
We decided to save the excitement of another solar shower for tomorrow so headed off towards Omarama and a free campsite for the night. After getting Hector Stuck very close to a river(!) we parked up in a quiet corner and hid under the shelter of the back door cooking steaks as the rain poured down.