As promised, a few photos of our camper van! We picked it up yesterday afternoon and went and found a campsite just on the outskirts of Christchurch, and spent the evening unpacking and finding our way around everything, and going to the supermarket to stock up. It’s very cleverly laid out – we’ve got all our clothes and things stored over the cab, then food and pots and pans and things in two fitted cupboards, there’s a fitted stove, sink and fridge, and lots of storage under the bench seats – a table that you can remove to make the bed, and another bed you can make up on the ‘upstairs’ level. We slept on the top bed last night, and we’re sleeping on the bottom one tonight, so we can decide which one we like best!
We’ve also got our WiFi working, which is absolutely brilliant – I called Dad for a chat on Skype last night, and we’ve been able to use the Internet even as we were driving along today, to look up campsites and things. Very handy!
We left this morning with a vague plan to make it to Mount Cook, and as we drove I was reading different brochures we’ve picked up, and found one for scenic flights over Mount Cook. Chris loved the idea, so we decided even though it’s expensive and not the sort of thing we’d usually do on holiday – we’re on honeymoon! And this is exactly why we asked for honeymoon contributions as wedding presents, so we can do a few extravagant things like this!
So, we stopped at Lake Tekapo – which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, by the way – and went in to ask about flights. She said they usually need 4 people to run a flight, but if they didn’t get anyone else during the afternoon, they’d let us have a flight to ourselves! So, we were crossing our fingers – we went off for a wander around the lake, to look at the church built on the water’s edge, and some wonderful cairns people have put up on the beach – I think most of them are done by visitors who just want to add their own to the collection, but I don’t know how it started!
We drove out to the airport and chatted to the pilot for ten minutes, and JUST as he said ‘looks like it’s just you, then!’, a huge tour bus pulled up outside and offloaded 10 Chinese tourists and their noisy interpreter! We then had to sit through nearly an hour of questions about the flight (‘Can we open the windows? Are we going to land on the mountain?’) asked and answered through the interpreter, then people deciding to come, then deciding not to – we got on one plane, and then three more decided to come, so we all had to move to the bigger plane, then they decided they didn’t want to be on the same plane as the other four – just as we were about to say ‘listen, we’ll come back tomorrow’ the pilot finally got it all sorted out, made everyone sit down, and we were off!
As a bit of an apology for the messing around, I think, he asked if Chris or I would like to have the co-pilot’s seat up front – so I let Chris have it, knowing he’d be even more excited than me! The flight was just stunning – one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. It was an hour, and ended just at sunset, with amazing colours over the mountains. We flew over Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, over the Tasman Glacier, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier – all places we’re planning to go eventually! – and then flew around the mountains and right up to the summit of Mount Cook – he said we were 1km away from the mountain but it felt as though the wings of the plane were nearly skimming the snow! It was just incredible, absolutely beautiful. It was a struggle choosing just a few photos, but here they are!
This afternoon, while we were waiting for the plane, we went into a tour office to find out about night sky tours from the observatory on Mount John, next to the lake, and decided it sounded amazing – so we’re doing that tonight! We gave up on the idea of going to Mount Cook today, and decided to stay in Lake Tekapo so we could do the observatory tour. We’re in an amazing campsite right on the lake, can’t wait to wake up in the morning and see the view! We’re going to get up early and get on the road to Mount Cook, so we have most of the day there.