In addition to their Information Centers, every shop, kiosk, airport, bus stand, restaurant and hotel is full of tourist booklets, pamphlets and pullouts.NZ has taken an integrated view of tourism. One thing good about NZ is the way the tourist experience seamless travel. All activities, be it hiring a car, renting accommodation, visits to various tourists’ spots, adventure activity, eating out has been woven neatly into the overall picture, making a visit to NZ special and truly memorable.
We stayed at the foot of Mount Cook in a small one horse town called ‘Twizel’. After a four hour drive we checked into ‘Aspen Court Motel’. Twizel is a very young town built from scratch in 1968 to provide a base for the construction of ‘Upper Waitaki Hydroelectric’ project. After a good lunch in the local restaurant and a bit of rest, we drove to Tekapo to join the star gazers.
|Riot of colours - Autumn in Twizel|
|Twizel sky line from the motel|
|Country side Twizel|
|Another fascinating view|
We joined the ‘Earth and Sky Stargazing Tour’ to Mt John. The observatory is located on Mt John for three reasons – the area is dry, high elevation and the sky is clear most of the nights. As we reached the gate of observatory the bus had to switch of the head lights. In fact there is no artificial light allowed on the whole of the mount. Having lived in a city one forgets to look up into the sky to gaze at God’s creation – also the earth lights and pollution makes it extremely difficult to star gaze. Gazing at the sky from Mt John was pure thrill.
We were able to watch Jupiter and two of its moons very clearly through the huge telescope. In the Southern hemisphere the objects appear opposite of what we are used to seeing in the Northern hemisphere. We watched the Southern Cross, Clouds of Magellan, Jewel Box and Omega Centauri clearly through naked eye. Orion, the Southern Star and the Milky Way are also clearly visible.
On the whole it was a unique experience gazing at the stars.
The next morning we drove down to Mt Cook and took a 40 min helicopter ride. The aerial view of the Southern Alps mountain range is really amazing. Mt Cook is the highest peak in the range at 3,754 meters. The most exciting part of the trip is the helicopter flight through the valley and the landing on the glacier. After a ten minute halt on the glacier we returned to base totally satisfied with what we had done.
|Waiting for the helo|
|At the heliport|
|Mt Cook at a distance|
|The Southern Alps|
|A different view|
|Naveen all thrilled|
|Flight to cherish|
|With the pilot|
|Sun on Mt cook|
|Flow of glacier water|
|From a distance|
|Prior to landing|
We then visited the Sir Edmund Hillary museum at the Hermitage before returning to Twizel. A day well spent.
|Sir Edmund Hillary in Bronze - a magnificent statue at Alpine range where he practiced mountaineering prior to conquering Mt Everest|
Another interesting feature in this area is the omnipresence of Lake Tekapo which is the Tenth-largest lake of NZ. It covers an area of 83 square kilometres, and is at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level. The drive around the lake is simply breath taking. Sharing this wonderful space is Lake Pukaki the seventh largest. Between the two of them they offer nature’s best to the tourist. Lake Pukaki covers an area of 178.7 km², and the surface elevation of the lake normally ranges from 518.2 to 532 meters above sea level.