Sunday 8 March 2015

A trip to South Island, New Zealand (4): Tekapo

Without much resources except the land itself, the exploring trail along the Southern Alps 150 years ago remained to be the major populated area in the South Island. Tekapo is another early settlement beside the lake of the same name --- just as the triple point of matters, we have the triple point of New Zealand here --- the intersection of calm waters, great mountains and clear sky.

Small towns can't be better than that --- hills and lakes nearby that can be reached without walking too much, yet convenience and full of high quality restaurants. Tekapo would be one among these ideal examples.

It was afternoon on the first day we arrived so there aren't many things for us to do. We simply walked along the lake till the sun set. I'd better leave pictures instead of word descriptions, but such clear lake altogether with the lovely little church as one of the only artificial object nearby reminds me of some classic medieval settings in the gaming world --- it is hard to tell if one like such scenario because he/she has been playing too much, but I do enjoy daydreaming/thinking/whatever in somewhere like this. It's like we've spend 4 to 5 hours just to take photos and sitting over there before leaving.

On the second day we decided to explore the other side of Tekapo, which is a small hill nearby. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit along the signaled track, but we somehow reached to the top from an alternative track, or simply by climbing to the top. There wasn't any facilitated track along our route but only tracks that has significantly less grass than the rest. We saw a few others passing by using the same route and it doesn't seemed to be a problem for local hikers. It's just a bit weird for us who are used to stay away from the mighty nature.

The summit is a popular spot for stargazing and more importantly, an excellent spot to observe aurora australis (the southern hemisphere version of the `polar-light'). Since we reached there in midday there aren't really any stars or aurora available but it is still amazing by looking downwards:

As mentioned the food quality here is really fascinating. It is weird because this is a small town with at most 15 or 20 restaurants but every single random selection from us turned out to be a fine experience. The Astro Cafe in the top of the hill is one of the must-try in Tekapo

As a cafe they provide simple meals to the hikers like bagels and cups of coffee but it was the freshness from every single component that impressed me. Personally I also liked the jam along with the bagel (and also the panini but that wasn't in the photo) that brings unique element to the dish.

Another nomination from me is the Kohan restaurant somewhere near to the main street. Despite a relatively dull representation, the salmon sashimi is absolutely at top quality. South Island is a good place to grow salmon and it is not hard to find shops selling salmon but this is one of the best I've ever tasted.


Everyday we wake up at 10 and go back to the hostel at 5 except for the dinner, but every day is filled with excitement yet fully relaxing and enjoyable. For those who plan to travel in South Island, just come and try once, then you will fall in love with this wonderful town. :)

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