When we checked out of our unit on our final morning in Akaroa we asked the manager about the best route to take to State Highway 1. On the map it looked as if we would have to drive all the way back to Christchurch before we headed southwest towards Wanaka. He was very helpful and gave us detailed directions which were easy to follow. His parting comment was: “It’s not a very interesting drive though. There’s nothing much to see.”
We left Banks Peninsula behind and headed west towards the highway. Once we turned left onto the highway we found ourselves travelling parallel to the Southern Alps. After cool overnight temperatures a fresh snowfall adorned the mountaintops.
Rakaia is the salmon capital of New Zealand and home of the Giant Salmon, Salmon World and Salmon Tales Café. The choc chip cookie I had for morning tea in the café rivalled that salmon for size.
After a long drive along the Fairlie-Tekapo road we rounded a corner and there was Lake Tekapo. The beautiful turquoise colour of the lake is caused by “rock flour” – particles of rock ground by glacial movement and suspended in the water.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, the first church in this area, stands on the shore of Lake Tekapo. It was built in 1935 and is placed to take full advantage of the glorious view.
Near the church is a bronze statue of a collie dog which pays homage to the work of the sheepdogs of Mackenzie Country.
Lupins grow wild in this part of New Zealand and there are places where the roadside is a sea of purple, pink and cream. Their colours brighten the stark landscape of the highway between Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki.
Finally we reached Wanaka and its lake. Here too the mountains surrounding Lake Wanaka were blanketed with snow and unlike the other lakes the water was a deep, dark blue.
Was the manager correct in his assessment of the five hour drive from Akaroa to Wanaka?
We think not!