Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 11 - Lake Pukaki/Twizel

June 11 - Lake Pukaki/Twizel

We woke up early in the morning to watch the sunrise over the mountains and Lake Tekapo. We hoped to wake up at sunrise around 6:30 AM, but Andy didn’t get up when the alarm went off again. We ended up taking down our tent and leaving around 8:30 AM.

We met a guy the day before that said he had driven about 20 minutes down the road and found a good place to watch the sun come up. We followed his directions and found a nice place to wait. The sun was already coming up, but the lighting was still good.

We stopped at a pull off on the side of the road and hiked down a little trail for about 200 yards. At one point we had to move part of the fence to pass through to continue on. We left the trail and walked down along a set of trees towards the lake.

We stopped along a ridge after we felt the views were good from there. We took a few pictures and then set up our cameras for a time lapse. We waited for about 30 or 40 minutes. When I watched it in the camera it seemed like it looked really good.

After we were done I peed in the bushes and then we went back to the car. We decided to continue driving on this side road to see if there were different views from the lake as well as Lake Alexandria. The mountains on this side had been hazy the day before from the sun, but now they seemed better.

We drove a few minutes and found a small little town on the shores of Lake Alexandria. We took some cool pictures, did some videos of ourselves walking across a small bridge, and then did a few action shots of us jumping in front of the mountains on the bridge. It was more of a walkway across water, but it acted like a bridge.

We got back in the car and headed back to the main highway towards Twizel, our next destination. By this point it was about 9:30 or so. Twizel was only about 30 minutes away so we weren’t in a huge hurry. We basically just wanted to see Lake Pukaki and Lake Oahu. Lake Pukaki is a bluish-green lake with mountains in the back, including Mt. Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand.

The drive to Twizel was pretty scenic. The weather was perfect and there were very few clouds in the sky. We stopped every few minutes to take pictures of the mountains in the distance. As we got closer to Lake Pukaki we started stopping more often. The sun was hitting the mountains just right so it made for some great shots and videos.

At one point we stopped on the side of the road and hiked down to the lake and took a ton of pictures. Many of them were self portraits and jumping pictures. We spent about 45 minutes at this location. We had excellent views of the lake with the mountains in the background. We will be going to Mt. Cook tomorrow so we will be able to get up close and personal.

We continued down the road and stopped a few more times. Again we were just taking pictures of the lake with mountains in the back, but from a different angle. The late morning seemed like the best time to see these mountains due to the location of the sun at this time of year. For the most part the sun stays low in the sky, it seems like the northern direction. I’ll try to pay attention in the future and see for sure, but it’s much different than at home. The sun is never overhead so it’s hard to know what time it is. Plus it gets light around 7 and dark around 5:30.

We drove into Twizel around 11:30 looking for the campground. The one we wanted to stay at was called White Horse. The Holiday Park Campground in town was closed for some reason and we didn’t really know where the White Horse one was. We stopped at the visitor center to ask where camping was and what there was to do in town in terms of hikes.

The lady directed us to a campsite across town called Lake Rattt. It wasn’t the one we were looking for, but it would do. We got lost driving over there,, but eventually got back to the main highway and found it. It was more expensive than the one we planned to stay at, but it included showers for free. The cost was 17 NZD per night. The last place in Lake Tekapo was 15 NZD, but it was 2 NZD for a shower. So here it was included in the price.

It was now lunch time so we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but the kitchen had toasters so we toasted our bread. I needed to charge my battery so we did that while we ate and tried to decide which hike we wanted to do. I started thinking that maybe we weren’t supposed to stay in Twizel based on the itinerary so I went to the car to look at it.

Sure enough. We were supposed to see Lake Pukaki and do a hike at Lake Ohau and then continue on. It was ok though since I had two days for Mt. Cook. We waited until my battery finished charging, which finally ended around 1:30 PM.

We decided we would drive to Lake Ohau and do the Ben Ohau Hike. It was one the lady recommended, but she said it was very steep. We didn’t have to do the whole thing, just part of it to get views of the lake and mountains.

We looked on the map and thought we would be able to find it. We drove down the road a little ways and then came to a Dam |Power Station. We didn’t really know where to go so we drove behind it. On the other side were some huge pipes.

We kept going and after a few hundred yards the road turned to gravel. We didn’t want to drive on a gravel road and it didn’t seem like it was the right direction. We turned around and started heading back towards the campground. Andy wanted to take a picture of the pipes so we stopped and did that. He then wanted a closer shot so he did that.

While he was taking pictures I looked at the map and thought I knew where to go. We started driving again, but it didn’t seem right. There was water on our right, but the map showed it should be on the left. We turned around again and headed back towards the power station and see if we could go down a different road I thought I had seen.

We got to the other road and again it turned to gravel. It basically seemed like it was just leading to nowhere. We gave up on that plan. We still wanted to go to the lake, but instead were going to go see it from the other side, which meant we couldn’t do the hike. It was ok though because by now it was 2:30 in the afternoon.

The route took about 45 minutes to get all the way to the end of the road along the lake. We of course stopped a lot to take pictures. Once we found a good stopping point we parked on the side of the road and just walked towards the shoreline. It had a marker for the beginning of a trail, but I think we just walked through the grass. It may have been a real trail, I’m not sure.

It was only a few minutes to the shoreline. We did some videos, pictures, and more self portraits. Self portraits means I set my timer up on my camera, rest it against something, and then take a picture. It takes a few attempts, but it’s fun to do. I filmed myself with the gopro taking pictures like this. Andy was doing some shots of himself too.

We stayed at the lake for about 45 minutes and then decided to go back to town for groceries and gas. As we were walking back to the car we heard some loud noises that we thought was a tow truck taking our car away. Andy was up ahead a little bit and said the car was towed. I knew he was lying, or he would have hopefully run up there to stop them.

We drove back as the sun was setting on the mountains. We stopped a number of times and took some pictures. Once we got back to the main highway we stopped one more time to take pictures of a small lake with some trees turning an orange color. At first we were going to keep going, but Andy asked if we should stop so we did.

We had to turn around and hike a little ways to get the exact shots we wanted, but it was worth it. The sun was hitting the trees just right and there were some small mountains behind them. We did a lot of videos and photos of this area. We probably stayed there for about 20 minutes.

We got back in the car one last time and headed for Twizel. It was now about 4:45. Andy wanted to do a time lapse video showing the sunset and then transitioning to a night sky. We drove down to the visitor center just past town and parked there. It was just before 5 when we got there. We set up our cameras and waited.

A lot of people were stopping in the parking lot to take pictures. While we were there two campers stopped as well, it seemed like they were going to be staying there for the night. It seemed pretty cool since they could do that for free. It would be nice to do that, but the rental campers were a lot more than what we paid for our car, so in the end it wouldn’t save any money.

I used my gopro and my camera to do the time lapse. At one point my camera battery died so I had to start over. After about an hour I decided I had enough. To change the camera settings seemed to hard and it wasn’t coming out like I wanted. I turned off my gopro camera after about 45 minutes.

I looked at my time lapse and because I was changing settings irregularly it was going from light, to dark, to light. Oh well, there were a few good shots in there. Andy decided he wanted to continue trying his. I tried doing some yoga to stay warm and it helped a little bit. Earlier in the day while we were waiting for my battery to charge I had done some yoga as well. I was able to do warrior 3 pretty well, I was impressed. It’s easy to do poses one at a time, but to do a lot and then try warrior 3 is hard. Your body is worn out by then and you can’t do it that well.

I eventually got tired and cold so I sat in the car and waited.  I sat there for about 45 minutes. I should have been typing my journal at this point, but I didn’t think of it. Andy finally finished around 7.

We headed back to Twizel just after 7. We looked for the grocery stores, but they were closed. What kind of town has grocery stores close so early? We decided we should stop and get gas since the gas in the Mt. Cook area is supposed to be expensive. We also looked to see if there were any groceries at the gas station. There were, but they were more expensive so we decided we would wait and get things in the morning.

We went back to the campsite and prepared to have our dinner. We had another ramen noodle dish, this time beef stew of some kind, with a carrot, and cookies. We went inside the kitchen area and some of the local construction workers were in there. Apparently a lot of them live in the campground. It seemed like the campground was more of a living ground. Basically a trailer park that had camping available.

The guys had cooked a huge feast. I’m not sure what all it included, but it smelled really good and the plate I saw was covered in food. They left all of their supplies and two crock pots full of some kind of meat that was defrosting. I was tempted to cook it and eat it.

The four guys were watching some terrible show on tv, but they had started a little fire in the fire place. We ate dinner and they left. I went and stood by the fire place to get warm. It felt really good. Andy was charging his battery an transferring pictures to his hard drive from my computer so I went and took a shower.

The shower was scolding hot at first. I turned the knob for cold and it became freezing. I finally got the water temperature just right, when some guy came in and flushed the toilet, the water went freezing again. I think someone was taking a shower next to me or down a few stalls, I’m not sure, but the water pressure and temperature messed up again. I eventually got it right again.

I must have taken a 45 minute shower. I hadn’t had one in 3 days and needed to shave. I thought someone was going to come in and tell me to get out since I was using all the water. I was really surprised how nice it felt. I figured this little place would have junky showers, but it was great.

I got dressed and went back to the kitchen area where Andy was. He was almost done transferring pictures and a few minutes after I got there his battery finished charging. He plugged mine it, completed his transfers, and then went to take a shower.

I wrote in my journal for about an hour and watched Desperate Housewives. I tried to changed the channel, but they only had two channels. I watched the show from 8:15-9:30. I had never seen the show before, but it was nothing like I thought it was about. It was an episode where one of the women’s husband had died. It was Terri Hatcher’s characters husband, Mike. They were all remembering things from their past about their husbands. It seemed like most had been divorced and gone through something and Mike had been there to help in some situation. At least that’s how it seemed. I doubt I will watch the show ever again.

Andy came back around 9:30 and was doing something. I don’t know. I was watching another show that had come on, it was Revenge. I don’t watch the show and didn’t pay very close attention to it. The kitchen area was supposed to close at 10 according to the sign, but we stayed in there until about 10:15. I was going to try to get a time lapse of the stars from our campsite, but decided it was too late, too cold, and I was too tired.

Our plan for tomorrow is to drive to Mt. Cook and do a few hikes. Hopefully we can get up early for once and get a few good shots.

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