I hopped on a Newman’s coach from ChristChurch, and about 5 hours later we pulled into a beautiful car park overlooking Lake Tekapo. After staring out the window at rolling hills covered in sheep and cows, this view had me stunned. I ran down to the rocky shores to take in the view of the crystal clear water.
Lake Tekapo is underneath New Zealand’s Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. The sky is black all the way down to the horizon, and on a night when the super bright moon is hiding, you can catch a glimpse of the Milky Way splashed between billions of stars. This area is highly protected from light pollution, which makes it an extremely remote place to reside.
When I say remote, I mean I living in the middle of nowhere! There is Lake Ohau Lodge halfway along the lake, Lake Ohau village at the beginning, and this hundred year old retro little wooden hut halfway in between.
This is my home. Otherwise known as The Grottage.
First impressions are always a little misleading, and I have started to fall in love with my quirky, dirty little home, made and improved with care from all of its previous owners.
It really is the most beautiful place to live. The weather changes drastically day to day, which means that no two views will ever be the same!
In the days leading up to Ohau Snow Field’s opening, I spent my time taking some long calm hikes along the lakeside.
The road from Lake Ohau Lodge has a few interesting hiking and mountain biking trails. I find the hikes here are much harder and less maintained than Japan, further out into the wilderness.
This 3km hike to Round Bush Campsite from the back of the lodge was really easy however, which took you up for a raised view of the lake through bushy fields and over bubbling little streams.
Another easy 1 hour hike we decided to do on a sunny frosty morning was the Temple Valley hike, which took you over the hills, through damp pine forests and onto a dry riverbed. The drive to get there requires a sturdy car as the roads are uneven dirt tracks with some small streams across the road.
We shared the road with some large black cows and a flock of sheep, many of which darted left right and centre in front of the car trying to stick together with their mates.
In 1982, New Zealand was home to 70.3 million sheep. The population of sheep outnumbered the amount of people at 3.18 million in the same year. This works out to 22 sheep per person! Today the numbers have been reduced to 27.6 million, with the emphasis now on dairy farming.
The meat and cheese here in NZ is quite incredible, and I enjoyed a few meals at Lake Ohau Lodge, made by awesome chefs from Switzerland, UK, Germany and New Zealand. If you get the chance to spend the night here for dinner, you’re in for a treat.
Lake Ohau Lodge has the feeling of being welcomed into a family home, run by my new Mum and Dad for the season; Mike and Louise Neilson. They have been running the Lodge and the Snow Fields since the 1980’s.
There are 72 luxury rooms, a bar, a restaurant, a games room, outdoor hot tubs, and quite occasionally is host to some beautiful weddings.
If you’re brave enough, there are kayaks to use on the lake on a still day. After the hike around Temple Valley we decided to test the freezing waters and have a paddle.
Lake Ohau is a glacial lake sitting in the Mackenzie Basin, fed by the Hopkins and Dobson rivers. The maximum depth is 423ft, and gazing down into the waters from the kayak I caught glimpses of Salmon and Trout swimming about.
Here’s to a fantastic start to the season. I can’t wait until the snow arrives.
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