Fairlie - Lake Tekapo: A fairly soggy day, most of the way...

Friday October 29, 2010, 45 km (28 miles) - Total so far: 263 km (164 miles)

Time: 3:40 Distance: 45.09 km Average: 13.0 Max: 55.7 Altitude Gain: 600 m

This morning it was cold, cloudy, and drizzling lightly. With only 43 km and one pass between me and the today's objective, Lake Tekapo, I was in no hurry to set out in the rain, and procrastinated for as long as I could, first over breakfast, then some bike maintenance and finally over dressing and packing. Leaving the holiday park, I reached only as far as the main street when the aroma of fresh coffee lured me into a café for a second breakfast, and a read of the local paper. The day I arrived in NZ a hiker was shot and killed by a hunter, and the media have been in a frenzy about it, and other similar incidents. I realized that stealth camping could be hazardous here.

Eventually I got my wet weather gear on and at 10am set out in very light misting rain, heading for Burke's Pass, about halfway to my destination. The route rose steadily and almost imperceptibly, but every kilometer had to be earned - there were very few opportunities for coasting. In what seemed no time at all I had covered the 20km to the pass, and looked around for the café in the village, but unfortunately it had ceased operations.

I took a few minutes to inspect what was proclaimed as NZ's oldest Union church and to eat the salad roll I had bought for precisely this scenario, but quickly became chilled and set off again for the pass. The climbing began immediately, but in reality the pass was no more than a big hill, and was easily crested. I paused briefly at the top for photo, then enjoyed an exhilarating descent into the Mackenzie Basin and on to Lake Tekapo just a few kilometres further on, where I arrived at only 1:30pm.

The township sprawls along the lake shore and is very touristy - understandably so once you catch a view of the gorgeous turquoise lake and surrounding snow-capped mountains off in the distance. The holiday park is at the far end of the strip, a long way from the shops and facilities so I decided to try my luck at a motel near the pub, and was offered a reasonably priced room, which I was pleased to accept.

So here I am, showered, laundry under way, a bowl of tomato and basil soup with crusty bread and a large cappuccino at my elbow. What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Oh, did I mention the clouds cleared and the sun came out just after crossing the pass? Right now it's lovely, warm and sunny. And once the journal is updated, it'll be time for a pint or two.

The oldest Union church in NZ, at Burke's Pass...

At the top of the pass stands this monument to the pioneer Michael John Burke, after whom the pass was named...

Lake Tekapo - no words necessary...

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