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Getting Some Fresh Air into the Lungs

Saturday 21st November 2015

semi-overcast 17 °C

Having had such a wet and windy day yesterday we really wanted to make the most of today. Rather than just walk around the lake we drove up Godley Peaks Road which runs to the west of Mount St John with its observatories and eventually leads to the foothills of the Southern Alps. We drove to the limit of the tarmac before turning left and driving on the unsealed lupin edged road past Lake McGregor

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and on to the much larger Lake Alexandrina. It wasn't that easy to get to the lake edge as both had camping grounds between the road and the water, but I was able to get quite near and take a couple of photographs. There was a small stream flowing into Lake Alexandrina and there were a couple of black swans there with very young cygnets over which they were being quite protective.

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I decided to leave them in peace and I got back in the car and we drove back down the road and parked up at the point that signals the start of the walk we had driven up here to do. It was a little bit confusing as to the way we were supposed to go. We had also seen on the notice board that the footpath is closed in November due to it being the lambing season, but there were no animals in sight and we reasoned that if it was really closed then there would also be signs on the gates, which there weren't. Anyway we hadn't driven there in order to be sent back and so we carried on. Initially the footpath went across open grazing land before it split creating the loop we would return on. The was then a bit of a climb to the top of the peninsula from where we had a great view, while being pretty windy.

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This seemed like a good place to take a some photographs as there were great views back down the lake towards Tekapo, across to Motuariki Island and Mount Dobson beyond and also up the lake towards the Southern Alps.

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Once we had admired the view we started to make the steep descent down towards the lake shore. This was quite tough and I ended up zigzagging my way down as I really didn't want to fall. Eventually we reached near the lake side and we were walking through gorse and birch trees. It wasn't long before the footpath started to go back up the hillside, although fortunately it wasn't as steep going up as it had been coming down. As we got back onto the relatively flat pasture land there were a large flock of sheep that hadn't been there previously. There were some quite young lambs but I don't think we caused them any stress and we felt reassured by the fact that we had seen several other walkers.

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It wasn't long before we were back at the car and once there we made our way up the side road to the Mount John Observatory. As we climbed up the hill the views got more and more stunning, although once we went to get out of the car we realised that the height had also bought strong winds with it. Our hosts Kaori and Ban had given us a $30 voucher to spend in the cafe and as it was gone lunchtime we were feeling pretty hungry. Just as we got there we were asked if we would like to go on a free tour of the observatories (I think this was because they had someone new to the job and she needed some people to practice on). It was really interesting being shown round, but I am not going to try and pass on the technical stuff partly because I didn't understand it all and also because what I did I am now struggling to remember. What did stick with me is the way in which astronomers working in the southern hemisphere seem to work completely independently of those in the northern hemisphere and visa versa. I get that they are looking at a different part of the sky but I still thought they would share more than they seem to on things like methodology.

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Once we had finished our mini tour we went and had a very late lunch making good use of the voucher we had been given. We then tried to defy the wind and take some photos of the amazing view of the peninsular where we walked this morning, as well as the lake, mountains and the town of Tekapo.

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From the top of Mount St John we could also see over to Mount Cook although the mountains in that direction were sitting amongst a lot of low cloud. To finish the day of we had decided to use the second half of our two day ticket for the Tekapo Pools. As we were driving there we passed a part of the lake beach that not only had lots of lupins but also a mass of yellow/ orange Californian Poppies.

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I got out of the car to take some photographs before we drove the rest of the way to the pools. We had another great soak, staying in the water for another couple of hours. It was a lovely way to relax after our walk, and a great way to end the day.

Posted by Gill's Travels 20:22 Archived in New Zealand

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