We left Dunedin early the next morning. We got a coffee down the road from the house and then hit the road. It was a long drive to Mt Cook National Park but we started out early. We made a stop at the moeraki boulders. These strange naturally round boulders along a beach just outside of Dunedin.
The friend we stayed with the night before told us about a place called The Flying Pig that we had to stop at on the way to Mt Cook. Apparently they have the best muffins. Unfortunately when we got there they were closed for the season. Since we’d been excited for muffins the whole morning, we were then on a mission for muffins. So we continued driving. We eventually stopped for lunch and possible muffin possibilities in Omarama. The muffin count came up dry, but we did stop to make our lunches and to see this old antique store. I’ve never seen a store stuffed with so many items before. I also don’t know how he had some of the things in his store. He had hundreds of American state road maps. No clue. I bought an old map of New Zealand and then we were on the road again.
The last bit of the drive was beautiful. We were back to the mountains on the other side of the southern alps. Everything was so blue and so perfect. We had to stop for a bit to enjoy the view.
We finally arrived at Mt. Cook and decided to go on a hike. We started on the hooker valley track, we were unsure how long it would take us and we were worried we wouldn’t get back before the sun went down. But we committed to the whole thing, it was a beautiful walk. It walks through a valley toward the peak of Mt. Cook with lots of rivers and suspension bridges. It was beautiful. The end of the track leads to a lake that is the bottom of the mountains glacier.
We spent some time at the lake sitting by the water and on the rocks. This was our second last day before we went back to Christchurch and was a really nice end to all the beauty and massiveness of this island. It was a really great and simple day.
The campground was right in the park so this is now up there for nicest campsite I’ve stayed at. That night we made burrito bowls (which we were very excited for the entire way back from the our walk) and played our usual cards. And three nights in a row we had a beautiful sunset.
The next day was my third and last driving day. We drove the long road out of the park, first stopping in the Mt Cook town looking for coffee and again, muffins, and again, coming up dry on both accounts. So we drove on, toward Tekapo. Lake Tekapo was our last planned stop on the trip. After an hour drive we arrived and quickly looked for coffee and muffins. Finally our quest was conquered. We sat outside and enjoyed our time and then went into a gift shop and asked for some things to do.
The first was a lookout point at an observatory, we drove there and found we had to drive up the steepest hill at almost negative speed limits. This just added to my list of crazy drives. Fortunately the view was beautiful, and the observatory was kind of cool. We couldn’t go into anything but the structures were cool. They had telescopes just sitting out so MK tried looking through one. A few minutes a man came over and asked us where we were from and what we were doing. He then revealed he worked at the observatory and gave tours. He told us we weren’t supposed to use the telescopes unless you do the tour. MK made a good point by saying they probably shouldn’t just be left out then, but oh well. The man kept trying to make deals with us to take the tour but we kept saying we weren’t interested. Later he tried doing a skit in front of all the people sitting outside to get them to do a tour. He asked for volunteers and basically made Steph go up. The whole thing was so uncomfortable. The view was pretty incredible though.
We finally drove down the hill, being even slower and more cautious this time. Then we went to the church of the good shepherd, New Zealand’s oldest church. It’s really famous and is seriously picturesque. It seemed like it might still be used sometimes from the looks of the inside but I’m not sure for what.
Then we left Lake Tekapo and headed toward Christchurch. We didn’t take as long as we had anticipated so we didn’t know what to do with the rest of our day. We drove for a while but then were very close to Christchuch, so Rachel suggested taking the scenic highway instead. On the highway we stopped at a roadside picnic area for lunch. We had been having a weird and funny day. I don’t know if it was because we were tired or if it was our last day or what, but it was funny. When we stopped for lunch we were in this huge laughing fit. Then we couldn’t decide where we were going to go. At one point we drove down one road only to realize it was a ski lodge (and not in ski season). Then we got a craving for ice cream so we were searching towns for ice cream, but there aren’t many towns on the scenic route. Then our last attempt at an activity was a gorge Steph had read about in one of her many travel brochures.
You see, when Steph arrived in Christchurch with Lu and Rach, she picked up every travel guide of the south island she could find. And they stayed in a bag in the back seat for the whole trip. She read them occasionally, but it was a bother to most people sitting in the back. Steph also needed to take her Shelley pic, which she saved till the last day. So she desperately wanted this gorge to look nice. So we had this hilarious adventure trying to get to the gorge and then once we were at the gorge trying to get her pic. The whole thing was really funny, so now we joke that the gorge was our favourite place.
Then we still needed ice cream. So there was a lodge right on the top of the hill, so we went up there and we were so happy to find ice cream! So we sat outside with the sun setting enjoying the last moments of our trip. It was beautiful.
The rest isn’t much to tell. We camped our last night then drove to Christchurch the next morning. We spent the day looking at stores and at the old cathedral and new cathedral. The city was destroyed a few years ago from an earthquake and so they’re still rebuilding everything, it’s really eery to walk around some areas. Then we checked into our hostel and all had some chill time to ourselves. Then we had to say goodbye to Shelley, it was pretty sad.
Our last pic with her.
We had dinner and went to bed and the next morning I flew back to Auckland. It was surreal to be back. It was such an incredible trip and jumping back into my life was both the weirdest and strangely easy. It was an experience I can never forget and something I’m very proud of. These girls became my family and the world became a little smaller and a whole lot cooler.