From Woodend Beach, we got a ride to Rangitata, where the road splits toward Fairle. Though the weather had been fine when we left, we were promptly engulfed in a cold southerly. By the time we were dropped off, it was 7 degrees C and raining. Miserable conditions for hitching. We gave it a shot anyway but retreated to a nearby cafe when we lost feeling in our extremities. Since we were near Temuka, we waved our white flag and called our friends Jimmy and Lizzie and were grateful to spend another night with them. In the morning, they dropped us at Pleasant Point, and we got a series of rides to Fairle and then to Tekapo.
We pitched our tent next to the lake. We could see the silhouettes of snowy mountains trough wispy clouds–the Southern Alps. The afternoon was grey enough to dull the brilliance of the lake, which shines an obscene blue under clear skies. We set out to hike up to Mt. John, an easy climb. By the time we reached the top, the clouds dispersed and the lake was radiant. The whole landscape lit up.
We spent two days in Tekapo. The days were cool and windy; we whiled away the hours soaking at the hot springs and walking along the lake shore. The nights were frigid, and we were grateful that we brought our warm winter sleeping bags. Each morning, the Alps were anointed with snow, and it melted away slowly over the course of the day.
It seems we’ve finally gotten a taste of winter.