Monday, December 30, 2013

Our New Zealand Vacation: Day Four

Day Four:  24 December 2013

We brought our bags downstairs in the morning to the smell of something wonderful...  fresh bread baking!  Fay and Lindsay had been busy as worker bees getting breakfast ready.  We went into the dining room to find quite a setting at the table.  There was a sideboard full of yogurt and cereal.  There was ham, cheese, fresh baked bread and a plate of fruit.  Coffee and tea were on offer, as well as a variety of jams.  We were offered a hot breakfast, but there was already so much to eat that we declined.

So we sat down with them for breakfast (as we were the only guests) and had more good conversation.  I would highly recommend Finlay Banks if you are looking for Christchurch accommodation and want something more personal than a hotel room.  Fay and Lindsay welcome you into their home so easily and it's hard not to fall in love with Zac.  Their home is immaculate, but they do not make you feel like you have to tiptoe around things.  We were quite comfortable.

We decided that instead of heading straight to Lake Tekapo as originally planned, we would take a detour to see Akaroa.  The drive was full of beautiful vistas down to the little French village of Akaroa.  When we got there, we walked around and shopped.  Mr. Smith found a jacket and t-shirt that he quite liked.  He was very happy we ended up there.  Unfortunately, the only way to get out of Akaroa and continue on our way to Lake Tekapo was to drive back the way we came in.

We ate lunch in Tai Tapu at a little cafe just before our turn.  I was happy that they let me order off the children's menu.  Not only saved us some money, but it was just enough.  I had chicken nuggets with french fries and Mr. Smith had a chicken caesar sandwich.  I made him drink water.

Continuing on the way to Lake Tekapo was more lovely landscapes.

Mr. Smith had been talking for at least two days now about this famous church in Lake Tekapo.  It was the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Again, just beautiful.  Lake Tekapo has been the most beautiful place we have been so far.

Lake @ the Church of the Good Shepherd

FYI: I think if you click on the photos, you can see a larger version.

The Church of the Good Shepherd

Lily loves the view

We couldn't get enough of this lake.

Inside the church

Okay, so we took a lot of photos of the church and the surrounding lake.  Honestly, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life.

We drove to our next bed and breakfast.  It was Creel House and our hosts were Rosemary and Grant.  We arrived and Rosemary showed us to our room with a private bath across the hall.  We departed soon after to drive to Twizel for Christmas mass.  What was supposed to be an hour's drive, Mr. Smith cut down to about 40-45 minutes.  On our way back we had to stop for photos because the drive between the two towns was out of this world.

Between Lake Tekapo and Twizel

We barely got back to Lake Tekapo with enough time to get a snack for dinner.  We ordered BBQ chicken wings on a bed of corn chips and wedges with sweet chilli and sour cream from the bar.  We were out of there in less than 30 minutes, which was great because we had a tour booked.

We took the St. John Observatory Twilight Tour.  Since it's summer, the sun is in the sky pretty late.  We didn't leave for the tour until 21:30.  Mr. Smith and I were the only ones on the tour.  They had told me when I booked the tour that we should show up warmly dressed.  This is why we needed a jacket for Mr. Smith earlier.  He had a sweater, but had accidentally spilled something on it.  Other than that, I was in jeans and a fleece jacket.  He had on shorts.  When we showed up for the tour, they insisted that we take these giant jackets to wear.

The view from Mt John Observatory

Me in the giant puffy jacket

On the tour we were taken to see all the telescopes that they use in their research.  We were also treated to hot chocolate and brownies.  (I think that may have been Mr. Smith's fav part. J/J)  Because it was a bit cloudy that night, we weren't able to see much in the way of stars.  We were able to see that Orion is in the Southern Hemisphere right now, but it's upside down.  We were able to see Jupiter and four of its moons with the telescope.  That was pretty cool.

They also pointed out the Southern Cross and showed us how to find true south using the Southern Cross and some other bright star.  Seriously, it was really great info, but I'd have to practice it quite a lot to get it right and it's much too bright in Sydney to do it.

Since there was such cloud cover, we were introduced to a scientist using the one meter telescope to prove that there could be life out there.  His name was Eric and he sounded just like Sean Connery to me.  He's part of a team that thinks they have found a planet that can sustain life.  If they don't prove it in 2014, they are out of luck because we won't be able to see it again until like 2040 or something like that.

We also found out on the tour that there are no mammals native to New Zealand.  Only birds and reptiles.  All the mammals they have now were brought from other countries and/or continents.

Our tour finished at about 23:30, just as two buses full of people were being dropped off!  I don't know that I could have done that.  I was so sleepy at this point.  And it was quite cold up there.  I was wearing jeans, t-shirt, fleece jacket and giant puffy coat and I was still a bit chilly.  Apparently the highest recorded winds in New Zealand are reached up at that observatory... up to 250 km/hour!

We were definitely ready to get back to Creel House for a good night's sleep.

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