NZ South Island – Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

The day started off just like it did yesterday with a quick visit to the hotel restaurant for a breakfast platter which was yet again very nice and convenient. We then returned to the room and packed our stuff up to hit the road (but not before grabbing a coffee). Dunedin was certainly a strange place. It is very industrial and warehouse-y. There is lots of street arts but not many people around. It has a very large student population which probably explains it. Two nights was definitely the right amount of time here.

We stopped at the servo for some fuel and then drove about an hour on the highway to our first stop on the road trip which was the Moeraki Boulders which are located on the beach just outside of Moeraki. The Moeraki boulders are about 20 circular boulders that lie in the sand (and some in the water) of the beach. They have been there for hundreds of years. It is believed that they formed within the cliffs and then once the cliffs began to erode the boulders rolled out and onto the beach. Pretty cool.

The next stop was only about half an hour away and in a town called Oamaru. It was very cold in Oamaru. We parked in town and went to a local pub/eatery called Fat Sally’s. We ordered an entree called Skinny Minnie which is a flat bread with pesto, cream cheese and sweet chilli. This was actually delicious. It was like a thin pizza and the flavour combination really worked. For our mains we ordered a steak sandwich and a pork sandwich. They were both very generously sized and we think the steak sandwich was definitely better. It was what you would expect from a decent pub meal.

Lunch was not the only reason we stopped in this town. We had read about a unique little attraction in this town before coming that we needed to have a look at. It’s called Steampunk HQ which is an interactive museum and gallery that features a very interesting collection of retro-futuristic sci-fi art, sculpture and sound. The art pieces here were quirky, creepy and like stuff out of a mix of a series of unfortunate events and Mad Max. It was a great and unique stop – particularly if you enjoy offbeat roadside attractions – which we do!

We drove another 1.5 hours to our destination for the next two days – Lake Tekapo. As you drive into town you can clearly see the lake and it is beautiful. The water looks turquoise and with the snow capped mountains in the background it sets a beautiful scene.

A quick resupply and breakfast and lunch preparation was done in the supermarket before we checked into our AirBnB. We did this and had a little rest (all this driving tuckers us out!) Then we went out and grabbed some dinner at a little Asian eatery called Ramen Tekapo. It is a combination of Japanese and Thai. Their ordering system is stupid. They have people who are eating in and people who are getting takeaway line up in separate lines despite having the same person serve them in no particular order. It was confusing and slowed everything down. We ordered some Gyoza for an entree which was pretty standard – dumplings are always nice. Then for main we had a tonkotsu ramen and a pad Thai. The ramen was really quite good even though it has spinach – spinach in ramen is no bueno! The pad Thai was honestly not good. It was a generous portion but it was way too much of the same flavour and was also too dry. We didn’t expect much from this place, we only chose it because the restaurants here are expensive and their menus don’t look appealing. We will cook for ourselves tomorrow night we think.

We had a late night activity planned for tonight that we were excited for. At 9PM we made our way over to Tekapo Springs for a stargazing and hot pools experience. The entirety of lake Tekapo is a dark sky reserve which means that the night sky is protected. They don’t have street lights here – just little lamp posts. Planes aren’t allowed to fly over at night and no building is allowed to emit more than a certain amount of light. What it means is that the night sky is the darkest is can possibly be and on a night like tonight – the stars come out to play.

The Tekapo springs centre was very dark and only lit with red lights as they produce less light pollution. When we went in the guide did some astronomy trivia and then as a group we made our way out to the telescopes. They have three very large high-powered telescopes which they pointed to a few different things. We got to see the planets Saturn and Jupiter as well as a couple of clusters of stars (including one that was 16,000 light years away!). It was the first time that we have looked through a telescope and it was amazing. The guide also gave cool information about night sky navigation and constellations. Then we went as a group back to the centre and got changed before moving into the hot pools. The hot pools were so nice and relaxing. We relaxed and soaked while we listened to the guide (who was clearly passionate about space and astronomy) talk about constellations and space and answered all of the groups questions. It was a really great experience to witness the stars in all their glory while we were soaking in hot pool. A lovely finish to the night,

Coffee – $5
Fuel – $43
Fat Sally’s lunch – $74
Steampunk HQ – $17
Supplies – $68
Dinner – $61
Total – $268

Much Love,
Ronnie & Aimee.

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