Day #82 - Lakes, Lupins and Love

There seems to be a pattern emerging with New Zealand weather. One day is lovely sunshine, the next overcast and rain! Since yesterday was lovely, today was a not so good day weather wise, but wonderful every other way. 

We started by popping back into Akaroa to have some breakfast in one of their lovely cafés (the service is so friendly and welcoming here) and also to get some pictures of the cute buildings that are here as promised. 

Since we were on the Banks Peninsula, we had to drive back the way we came towards Christchurch. We could have opted for a more scenic route to the one we took yesterday but with the weather and low cloud as it was, it wasn't going to be that scenic! So we retraced our steps towards Christchurch before turning southwest to head to Canterbury and the big plain. From there we headed to Tekapo. 

It was always going to be a long drive day today. There is a large section of the South Island that we were going to skip due to there not being much that would interest us in the region. So in two days we needed to cover 600km.

Luckily as we headed south the weather improved and before long we were back to seeing blue skies framing the majestic scenery. 

From the plains, the Southern Apps loomed before us with  brilliant sunshine, beautiful snow caps and rolling green hills. Suddenly as we crossed a bridge over a gravel river bed, we spotted a huge cluster of lupins on a river! It was screaming photo opportunity and so we decided to take a closer look. Lupins aren't indigenous to New Zealand and are considered an invasive species, I think this is one invasive species that brings a welcome splash of colour! What do you think? 

Back in the van, we continued all the way to our destination of Takapō, a stunning aquamarine glacial lake surrounded by glorious mountains, dusted with a little snow (well it is summer!). 

Our original plan for our last night in the camper was to do another freedom camping site so that we ended in the true spirit of outdoor living. Well, after five minutes of trying to find the rustic site, we caved and booked into a regular campsite with all the lovely amenities we've come to expect!

Lake Takapō

The site is right on the shore of Takapō and we have the most gorgeous views. Lake Takapō was formed over 17,000 years ago as the glaciers retreated during the last ice age. The lake's turquoise colour is caused by silt suspended in the water. Sometimes called 'glacial flour', it reflects the blue or green spectrum of the sun's rays so that's the colour we see. The silt comes from the mountains, formed as glaciers scrape away at underlying rocks like a giant piece of icy sandpaper. The silty water is then brought down to the lake via streams and rivers.
Right next door to our campsite are some very relaxing hot springs. Well of course it would be rude not to give those a try! 

Like the Hanmer Spring pools, these too were very relaxing and it was wonderful to sit in such warm waters and take in the scenery and fresh air.

After our dip we then walked all the way along the shoreline through the little town and onto what is proclaimed to be the most photographed church in new Zealand. Well you can see why! 

Those pesky lupins were in abundance again which of course was a boon to the budding photographer in me!

There was also a very elegant bridge across the lake's outlet and a touching statue to "all collie dogs" that helped farm the land. I presume they are referring to herding sheep and not driving tractors. 

One the way back, the walked through a sculpture garden that had been set up in front of the lake.

We also found a rather posh looking restaurant with a great view of the lake and decided to celebrate the end of our campervan road trip with a lovely meal. I opted for venison in honour of the deer we saw whole James went for a beautiful stake.

The dessert menu was too tempting to be ignored and so a sticky date pudding and a panacotta soon arrived (and equally as quickly devoured!

Another wonder day drew to a close as we settled in for our last night in the van. It's been an amazing road trip and we will miss our little home on wheels.