22 April 2016
Chris arrived after breakfast to be our tour guide for the day. He took us back to the Mount John Observatory for a daytime look and a view of the “big telescope” called the MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics).
The drive along Highway 8 from Tekapo to the Sir Edmond Hillary Alpine Center in Mount Cook Village is very scenic. This side of the mountain is dry and the landscape is more scrubby, similar to a California landscape. It is quite beautiful in it’s way and very dramatic.
We stopped at the Blue Lakes car park about eight kilometers east of Mount Cook Village. Chris and I hiked up to the lookout. There are a series of stairs leading up to the lookout area making it easier for tourist to view; although it is a bit of climb. I had to stop to take a few pictures (had absolutely nothing to do with needing a breather!).
The Blue Lakes are actually green. There is a sign that explains that the lakes were formed by the Tasman Glacier, and at the time of their naming were still fed by the clean, clear glacial waters. The Tasman Glacier has now receded significantly and the lakes are only fed by rain water. The rain water is much warmer than the glacial water and so algae grows making the lakes green.
As for the glacier, it looked very dirty around the lake and is shrinking rapidly as are all of the worlds glaciers. About 14,500 years ago, Tasman Glacier was 85 kilometers long with 1,500-meter deep ice at the location of Tasman Glacier View. By 1890, the glacier was 29 kilometers long, with 880-meter deep ice in this location. In 1990, the glacier was 26 kilometers long. It measured 24 kilometers long in 2011 and is retreating by 480 to 820 meters per year. It is expected to be 20 kilometers long by 2027.
We drove on up to the Hermitage Hotel and the Sir Edmond Hillary Alpine Center where we had lunch before heading back to Tekapo.
As we arrived back close to town the sun was setting and the light over Lake Pukaki was amazing. We stopped and waited. It was so beautiful!
We ordered take out from the Japanese restaurant in Tekapo because we could not get a table (for the second night in a row). Chris picked the food up for us and we enjoyed the evening at our little cottage. Leaving the following morning we bid farewell to Chris. It was sad to say goodbye; he was a wonderful host and we enjoyed his company so much!
The following morning we stopped down the road from our cottage so that I could take a couple of shots of the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was not early enough that the place was not full of tourists which made getting a shot without loads of people in it difficult but I was luckier that I thought I would be.
Today we will drive to Christchurch, our last stop on this lovely trip. We have splurged on a luxury room and are looking forward to a bit of posh!