January 22-26 In Mckenzie Country

Touchdown in Christchurch! Queues to enter customs, reclaim our suitcase, then hotfoot to buy duty free Gin for our hosts, and a NZ ‘spark’ mobile phone. Taxi to collect our borrowed car: and the first clue of how generous New Zealanders are – we were complete strangers but the householder led us out to Rolleston on the Timaru road, so we should not get lost. The speed limit is a maximum of 70mph on every road: reduced to 30-40 near towns, so speeding is not an option.

A 3-hour drive lay ahead …Ashburton, Geraldine, Fairlie…climbing steadily into Mackenzie Country, the high hills becoming mountains – dry and golden-beige – scattered trees, some singletons, planted in rows as windbreaks. ‘Beautiful Valley’ said the map, and bucketing over a hill we descended into a golden haze punctuated by cypresses and tall poplars.

Climbing again, on wonderfully smooth roads marked with arrows and speeds for corners, and occasional prominent notices showing the Fire Risk – an arrow pointing to ‘High Risk’ due to the prolonged drought, we came through small towns, with houses along a Main Street, and occasional ‘gift shop’ or more rarely ‘accommodation’ signs displayed on front porches. Along the State Highway were infrequent signs like ‘Mossburn Road – no exit’ leading to a sheep station; the distances between habitations were startling to our eyes.
Exhausted, and seriously jet-lagged, we stopped at a Farm Shop for a pot of tea, and alerting our host that we were still well behind schedule, likely to be late for dinner.
And then came the most startling sight – beyond our imagining – Lake Tekapo. The colour of turquoise, yet somehow both milky and brilliant; as we discovered, the grinding action of glaciers deposits a fine dust into the waters, called ‘flour’, which causes this extraordinary colour.
‘Turn right after the Lake’ said our instructions, ‘and after 14 kms there is a sentry-box beside the road, turn onto the track that leads to Irishman Creek’. … In our rear view mirror we could see the dust-cloud hanging over the long, unmetalled road, the ochre colour of the surrounding dry ground, and ahead lay green trees – and the Station itself where our host and (unknown to us) other guests had waited dinner until we arrived.


About Lavender Buckland

LLM rural ministry, communicator, website manager, passionate about communication! Music, reading, poetry, embroidery, and LIFE!
This entry was posted in N Z Travels in 2015 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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