NZ2020: Day 18, From Christchurch to Lake Tekapo via Peel Forest, featuring the Southern Cross

Today we drove from Christchurch to our next stop at Lake Tekapo via the Inland Scenic Route .

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We crossed over the Rakaia Gorge, a huge turquoise blue glacial outwash river. The riverbed was full of bleached white rocks, many exposed in the late summer, despite the recent flooding to the south.

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Rakaia River

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Rakaia Gorge Bridge

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Upriver view

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Thick glacial outwash / riverbed sediments in the roadcut.

Our guide had recommended a stop at Peel Forest, a reserve of old growth, native forest with some of the largest trees preserved. We walked a few short loop trails into the forest, appreciating its coolness on this warm day.

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Cool and shady trails in the Peel Forest.

Big Tree Walk: Totara trees are some of the largest trees in the forest.

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Kahikatea trees are among the tallest of the native trees, and date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

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While on the Fern Walk, I was especially impressed by the absolute din of insects, and the loud chiming call of the bell birds that echoed through the forest. 

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I took a video while on the Fern Walk, mostly for the sound, a bit unsteady in the images…

After our forest stop, we continued our drive toward Lake Tekapo across the dry plains to the east of the Southern Alps, which we could see as a jagged, snowy skyline to the west.

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We checked into our motel room at Lake Tekapo, with a view overlooking the lake and mountains beyond.

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Motel at Lake Tekapo

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View across Lake Tekapo

Later that night, in search of astrophotography, we drove around to the north side of the lake, and finally spotted the southern cross.

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Sunset over Lake Tekapo

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Stars beginning to come out.

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My best handheld effort at photographing the Southern Cross constellation; the streakiness highlights the four key stars and the two pointers.

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My husband captured this photo of the Southern Cross with his camera and tripod.

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Closer view of the Southern Cross.

For the next two days we days hiked and explored in the area surrounding Lake Tekapo. 

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