A quick stop at the lakes


  • Queenstown – Lake Pukaki
  • Lake Pukaki – Lake Tekapo

We piled on to the bus with slightly somber attitudes and a whole new set of faces surrounding us. Our driver, Dave, was as mad as a hatter and spoke about a million random things but mostly, we were tired and hungover and slept through the journey.

That was until we stopped at Lake Pukaki. It sits in the shadow of the Southern Alps with a view of Mt.Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain at 4km above sea level, and technically steeper in gradient than Mt.Everest. The lake itself is a rich turquoise colour as a result of mineral-rich mountainous rock being eroded to particles finer than sand, including gold and silver minerals, that cause it to shimmer with the metallic blue colour you would associate with paradise pictures.

We sat in awe, took some family pictures and were interrupted by a nasty Asian cultural practice of spitting out phlegm, right across our path. Still, the beauty of the place stuck in our minds.

The bus then took us on to Lake Tekapo. This was equally as beautiful but not quite as turquoise. However, Tekapo was surrounded by a gorgeous pink and purple native plant and several mountains, which have hill-top observatories and are well-known to show the Milky Way at night.

There is also ‘The Church of the Good Shephard’ at Lake Tekapo. Rather than stained glass windows behind the altar, they have a completely open window looking out over the lake. It’s easy to see why as the view is serene and easily symbolic of deity. Apparently if you want to get married there you have to book over 3 years in advance. Puck and I joked that we’d book it now and worry about the man later!

The Lakefront Lodge was our hostel that evening. Our family room now a 4-bed (us three and another girl from the bus called Mary), with super comfy beds but a very cramped space. Still we had a view out over the lake so no one was really complaining. We made some lunch and chilled out a little in the lounge area, also with a view over the lake, before deciding we should do something with our afternoon.

Initially we wanted to summit Mt.John, the hill with the observatories, so set off in that direction around the lake. Puck was her back to her usual crazy self, providing us with child-like entertainment of copying every word I said in my English accent and pretending she had done all the horse poo along the track. I think delirium had probably struck by this point as Matt and I found everything utterly hilarious. We bumped in to a few walkers who told us the summit would take a further two hours and was very cold as the wind was so strong. With this, we decided we didn’t have the energy or appropriate clothes and the views we’d seen were stunning anyway and so headed back towards the lodge, all the while having a really lovely DMC.

Having walked for a few hours it was time for food. We’d purchased a heap of vegetables and chicken earlier to begin our detox and cooked a gorgeous satay chicken stir fry and noodles with enough for lunch the next day too. We paired this with a cup of tea, followed by a hot shower and pyjamas and joined everyone else from our bus back in the lounge room as everyone was dying from Queenstown too. It wasn’t long before someone suggested a film to which we all grabbed comfy cushions and blankets, set up camp and relaxed in front of ‘Casino Royale’.

By 9.30pm my eyes were dropping. I’d caught up with Bex and Em still in Queenstown, quickly rung home to Mum and got myself ready for bed and by 10pm, all 4 in our room were tucked in with the lights out. Clearly we all needed to rest and there really wasn’t a more beautiful place for it.

The bus didn’t leave until 9am the next day so we could even lie in till 8am (I love how 8 is now classed as a lie in for me!). The weather was still stunning across the lake that morning which meant we had only fantastic memories of the view at Lake Tekapo and a well-rested day and night.

So, 30 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and so far, I’m back on the healthy track.

Gabby x


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