Home > New Zealand > Day 1: Introduction

Day 1: Introduction

31 May, 2010

It’s our first night on the South Island!

Katrina and I caught a flight this morning into Christchurch from Wellington.  She’s been doing a lot of air travel recently, as she just got into New Zealand yesterday from Calgary.

We took the city bus to the Wellington airport (and also one in Christchurch).  They worked really well, were cheap, and were easy to follow.  I’d highly recommend them if you’re ever traveling in New Zealand.

The flight down was incredible.  There were clouds at about 2000 meters, covering nearly everything, and all the mountain peaks poked out above that.  They were snow covered, and for as far as you could see it was an alternation of snow capped mountain tops and fluffy white clouds.  To top it all off, the sun was shining bright since we were above all the clouds.

Mountains of the South

The flight down to the South Island was perfectly sunny, but only because we were above the clouds. As you can see, most of the island was covered in clouds, with the exception of the huge mountains of the south poking through into the upper atmosphere.

Of course, the weather on the ground isn’t as hospitable.  It was “a tropical 8° C” (45° F), as the captain of our plane said.  Clouds covered most of the sky.  Luckily, it only rained a little bit as we were landing.

Still, with winter here, it gets dark around 5pm, making our daylight hours very precious.  It also gets quite cold at night, and the water in the sink at this campsite is frozen.

We drove from Christchurch towards Mount Cook.  We stopped to pick up some food at a Pak N’ Save and grabbed a quick lunch.

It’s been a nice drive, albeit dark for most of it.  We stopped in Lake Tekapo and looked out over the dark lake.  (You couldn’t see anything, though, since it was night and the moon hadn’t quite come out yet.)  The ground was covered in snow, a stark contrast to the last time I was there.

Our van is pretty nifty.  It’s an Escape Camper van; it has three seats in the front, a bed with lots of storage in the back, and also a counter with sink, cooking supplies, and gas burner.  We haven’t really used it yet, but it will be much nicer than my typical travel meal: a PB&J for every meal.

My only qualm is that the engine is directly underneath the passenger seat.  This yields quite a bit of draft coming into the van.  In the summer this wouldn’t be bad, but it’s cold enough in the van without the draft coming in.  So, we’re stuck ramping the heat way up and making our already crappy gas mileage even worse.

We’re in Mount Cook for the night.  The DOC site is nearly deserted, with only three other cars for the night, as compared to the 20+ back in February.  Oh, and everything is covered in three inches of snow.

Mueller Lake

The beginning of the Hooker Valley Track near Mount Cook. I actually took this on Day 2, (since we didn't get here until it was past dark), but I figured I'd show you all the snow and stuff.

I’m hoping we sleep ok.  It’s pretty chilly in the van, but the blankets seem toasty.  We’ll see by morning!

See the full set on Flickr! (Photos will be uploaded as I go through each day.)

  1. Selina
    July 15, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Brrrrr! Everything looks so crisp and cold. I almost totally forgot about the whole you’re-in-summer-while-we’re-in-winter deal. Beautiful :)

  2. July 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    “So, we’re stuck ramping the heat way up and making out” – You know what’s great? Proofreading.

    Excellent typo, I must say.

    • July 16, 2010 at 1:06 am

      Hahahaha. Whoops. Corrected!

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