Friday, 3 August 2012

New Zealand...Hamner Springs, Lake Tekapo & Mount Cook

You know when you have arrived into Hamner Springs and that is because you can smell you have arrived. The unpleasant sulfur creeps through the air and the smell is something similar to rotten eggs, not so nice. The town itself is small and set within lots of mountains and rivers. We headed to the campsite on the edge of town and settled in for the night in our campervan. I must admit I was happy to use a campsite that was not government owned as we could have a 'real' wash for the first time in a week. It's strange because I now appreciate the smaller things in life, things such as a hot shower, a place to cook food easily, a normal toilet and not just a wild bush! 

After resting up the night, we headed out to a forest walk early the next day, we headed upwards towards a waterfall. The weather was rather cold and wet and the walk proved to be slippery and steep. When we finally reached the waterfall it was lovely to sit down, enjoy our flask of soup and bread and listen to the wildlife and peaceful surroundings. It makes the walk worthwhile being able to take time to sit and reflect and enjoy the experience of being in the outdoors. Heading back towards the campervan, I had only one thing on my mind...The hot pools! 

As a treat to ourselves we headed to the famous 'Hamner Springs Hot Pools', these are naturally built outdoor thermal pools. The water bubbles with heat as the sulfur rises, the smell is not so pleasant but it is a relaxing place to be. We creeped out into the cold and headed for the first pool, it was like heaven. We did not leave the first pool under we had wrinkles on our fingers and then made a dash to the next outdoor pool. We did this in all of the 6 outdoor pools, it was a great experience being outside when it was cold, raining and miserable and you are boiling it up in bubbles of natural warm water. It was very therapeutic and relaxing and this made our whole journey here worthwhile. 

The next morning we decided to head South. We cruised past Christchurch once again doing a loop on ourselves, then headed along the coast and then embarked more inland. Our aim was to reach Mount Cook. As we didn't want to spend all our days just driving and wanted to fully enjoy places we made the journey slowly, stopping off along the way and camping at different campsites each night. The weather we noticed was getting wetter and colder, I was so thankful I invested in a $7 hot water bottle! As we cruised towards the centre area of the South Island, the landscapes once again change and this time it was something mystical. We stopped off along the way at Lake Tekapo, a really calming place, where the lakes sleep in tranquility and you notice all the tree's shedding as Autumn flourishes. Further on we headed towards a mountainous plane. The mountains in this area are the biggest of the whole country, the famous 'Mount Cook' being the biggest at 3,754m. All the mountains surrounding are of similar ranges and you feel so small and delicate as you wander amongst these giants. The great Kiwi explorer and first man to conquer Everest 'Sir Edmund Hilary' used Mount Cook for his training before embarking on the mighty Everest. We loved this area, as you are amazed by the snow capped mountains that look so rugged yet so pretty. That night while sleeping at the base of Mount Cook, a thunderstorm rolled in. This was an eventful night, the roar of the thundering clouds, the violet sky that forked with lightening and the heavy rains that shot down, it was almost a scary sound as you try to sleep. The next day the weather remained the same, so we had no chance of heading out on the planned walk we where hoping to do, so we drove out 10mins and before you know it, you are greeted with blue skies and sunshine. New Zealand weather is known to change quick and fast and many regions have their own micro-climates. Around the mountains the huge stormy clouds remained yet 10minutes drive away you are welcomed to sunshine and blue skies. You have to be prepared for all weather conditions anytime of day throughout the year. With the beautiful sunshine blessing us, we stopped at a nearby lake, nobody around and it was so peaceful. From here, we did a small walk around the landscape and made the most of this sunshine filled day. As the evening approached, we opted to head East again and make our journey back towards the Coast when heading South. So, after a quick snack and rest we zoomed on in the Jucy Camper, wondering what other sights with grace us along the way...

Enjoying some wine tasting after Hamner Springs

The cold air on Lake Tekapo

Exploring the landscape in the South Island

Waking up in the morning and seeing this makes me love New Zealand

Enjoying an afternoon walk with Mount Cook in the distance

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