Sunday 21 August 2022

Back to South Island in 2022 (2): Tekapo

Tekapo, home of the Church of the Good Shepherds and the Mt John Observatory, the place where you can experience NZ lakes and mountains within walking distance from a single village.

To me Tekapo means much more in trips to South Island. It's where me and my friends without GPS somehow used an abandoned tramping track along the lake to reach Astro café in 3 hours. It's where Kohan restaurant serves somewhat rare quality Japanese food in such small town. It's where I first tried affogato with liquor (in the good way).

This is where I have had so many good memories with. And naturally I have high expectation when I plan to visit there again. Again due to restriction in public transport I will only stay there for a single night. Ideally we would have arrived there at 12, a quick check-in and we should be able to reach Mt John summit at 2 and we can have a nice lunch there. 

Ideal plan stayed in the ideal plane and of course you won't expect that after the cancellation of the flight cruises and that you were already experiencing bad weather in Queenstown.

It was raining when we board the bus at 8. As if the cloud was chasing us, rain stops gradually as the bus progresses, but it started to rain again as soon as we stopped for breaks. The sky was full of grey clouds and stormy winds blowing when we took off at Tekapo. No rainfall yet, but we'd know we need to reach our hotel as soon as possible.

I was so confused when I got off the bus right in front of the supermarket which I had no idea where it was. I only realized that I lived at a hostel along the way to Mt John, so the only geography I knew about Tekapo is a straight road from the hostel to the main street. Everything else is new to me, including where I got dropped off this time. Of course it wasn't too tough for me to find the right direction with the help of GPS. The hotel I picked this time was a bit far away because I tried not to pick hotels with bad reputation in hygiene possibly due to the lack of staffs during covid.

The wind and rain just relentlessly grew stronger and stronger...and it finally turned into sleet then snow as the sky turned dark. We had no choice but to walk against the snow to the main street for some food. Kohan restaurant is closed due to extended renovation -- who knows if it's just an excuse not to open in winter? But we also found another familiar face, Ramen Tekapo -- I remember the "Thai and Japanese restaurant" board in the past but I wasn't so sure if it had the name ramen -- which is always a perfect choice in harsh winter. Ramen quality is basically what you would find in non-Asian countries, but their spicy miso ramen is more of a Thai spiciness than Japanese ones that you need to be careful.

Snow didn't stop when we return to the hotel, and it didn't stop overnight either. Just as in Nagano we woke up and found everything covered by think snow. 

Such experience is not something that you can easily ask for. I went to the same hot spring hotel in Nagano twice in winter twice, first with my friend then later with my family. The first time we were able to observe a green backyard in the first day then a white one in the next day. The second time nothing really happened that night. The staff told us that we visited on the coldest day of the year...but snow simply didn't arrive that night. 

Given how precious the snow could be, it is not the time to murmur about missing the chance to visit Astro café again. Instead it's time to explore the world covered by snow!

Lake and the Church, 2022 vs 2014.

At the end of the day we still need to think about realistic problems though...with heavy snow in particular the two passes that goes in and out of Tekapo, roads were closed and the bus was cancelled. We were very grateful that a couple also going to Christchurch were willing to take us there. Thanks a lot!

The sign of Tekapo changing has been apparent when I came last time, with constructions along the lake started as early as 2015. However the main street remained largely the same -- the shops, the restaurants and the views. This is what I concluded after reviewing old photos on google maps which overruled my incomplete memories.

I mentioned that it is not the most regrettable to not being able to visit Milford Sound and Mt Cook, but not being able to visit the summit of Mt John. However the snow had compensated it all. This is another piece of wonder added to my Tekapo collection.


Past entries on my 2014 and 2022 trips

No comments:

Post a Comment