I knew I would have some weather issues visiting New Zealand at the beginning of their winter, so it cam as little surprise to me when I woke up on my third day here to foggy and overcast. In most places, this is a slight inconvenience, but I was heading inland to some of the country’s most amazing scenery, specifically Lake Tekapo, where I hope to catch a scenic flight over the Southern Alps and participate on a star-gazing tour at the observatory on top of nearby Mount John.
It looked even less promising when I reached the village and a steady rain started. Around 10AM, the rain stopped long enough for me to get some pretty good pictures of the lake, just absent the brilliant mountain views because the clouds were hanging around 7000 feet.
The company I had booked the flight with, Air Safaris, had told me in the morning that they were hopeful it would clear in the afternoon, which was the reason I sent much of the day waiting as patiently as possible (for me), having a long breakfast writing out postcards in a small cafe, the playing around on the internet, which as always here in New Zealand, was a little pricy.
|View from atop Mount John|
While browsing the internet, I looked at the weather radar using New Zealand’s exceptional website Metservice.com, and saw that the next few hours didn’t look any better. (As a side note- with so much of this country’s weather affected by not only the highly volatile Tasman Sean, but also winds from the Equator and the Antarctic, it must make it possible to predict weather with even remote accuracy.) I had all but given up on the flight, and I knew the star-gazing tour was also probably out. I went into the village office for the Mount John Observatory to see if there was a during the day option, and was pleased to find a much shorter version of the tour was available. I took the tour (more details coming in a separate post later), and enjoyed it. I was disappointed by the views from the top of the mountain, since the low cloud layer not only blocked the mountains, but also the lake & village below.
|Somewhat pretty view, but one that is awe-inspiring without the cloud cover|
Had the scenic flight and star-gazing tour happened, I was fully ready to pack up early and leave Tekapo at 5AM to get to Dunedin, where I was scheduled to meet a friend. Instead, I decided to tackle most of that drive in the driving rain that came through around 4PM. The decision to make the long drive was an excellent one- and I’ll expand on the reason why in an upcoming post.