The start of our Southern Beauty tour!
So - here we go: Tony and I were picked up from our Christchurch hotel by our tour guide/driver Tim, then we headed on to Christchurch Airport. Tim gradually gathered up most of our group who had flown in from various parts of the North Island. Sort of like herding cats! Seriously though, everyone was pretty good and Tim eventually led an orderly bunch of seniors to the tour wagon.
Getting on our way, we drove out of Christchurch City and along the long straight roads of the Canterbury Plains towards Ashburton. There we picked up the last member of our 18-strong group.
Going on, we detoured off that long straight road to the Akaunui homestead, the home of our lunch hosts, a couple whose farm property has been in their family for generations. An enjoyable time in a lovely setting around the 120-year house ensued with pre-lunch drinks served followed on by a very nice smorgasbord meal eaten in the grounds, surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens and trees. Most of the food provided was produced on the farm. Two very personable and entertaining family dogs made friends with all!
After this pleasant sojourn we drove on towards the Southern Alps through the Mackenzie Country, where we stopped at the beautiful site of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd. Heading on towards Aorakii/Mt Cook, we had brilliant views across the turquoise-coloured Lake Pukaki. The eye-catching colour comes about through extremely fine silt partials – or “glacial flour” - eroding off the glaciers and staying suspended in the water.
Arrived at the Hermitage to breathtaking views of the mountains nearby, seen from every room. Fine weather made for wonderful viewing. The twilight provided an ethereal view of our highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook from our well-appointed rooms.
Already, after just one day’s travel through this beautiful and breathtaking scenery, I can tell I am going to run out of superlatives very quickly, or run the risk of repeating them often!