This was going to be a long day, beginning with 3.5 to 4 hours driving to Christchurch. It was to end with our 10:00 pm flight from Christchurch that would arrive in Brisbane at 11:00 pm to be followed by immigration processing and a drive across the city. We decided that a sleep in and 9:00 am start was in order.
With no alarm set it was 7:20 am when we woke. We didn’t hurry over breakfast but even so we were packed in the car and ready to go well before 9:00 am. We were low on fuel so we filled up before leaving town.
The mountains were still mostly shrouded in cloud and mist. We could see the lower slopes and some snow but not the peaks as we drove north and around the foot of Lake Pukaki. We stopped once for photos across the lake just before we left it and headed to Tekapo. By then the sky was clearing in the east.
On the way to Tekapo we had to stop for photos with lupins. Helen was quite besotted with them and Majella was also a bit lupin loopy. The roadside was covered in fields of lupins stretching back some distance, often up to 100 metres or more and any stream that crossed the road seemed to be outlined with ribbons of lupins on either side. Eventually it all became too much for them and we had to halt for them to get out and among the lupins.
The Church of the Good Shepherd at Tekapo is perched above the lake shore with a view out the window behind the altar that removes any need for stained glass. The sign and the guardian insisted on no photos inside, much to Majella’s distaste but we managed plenty from outside. Coffee was at Reflections back in Tekapo town. We sat outside to enjoy the view to the lake and snowy mountains beyond, across beds of lupins that studded a mini golf course. Majella spotted a special offer on T-shirts with lupins on front. There was a purple one in her size that made a suitable anniversary gift.
We paused again in Geraldine to sample the wares at Barkers. The lime and elderflower cordial was up to Majella’s standard but I prefer the way we serve it with vodka, gin, tequila, or white rum. We tried some Talbot Forest cheeses and had Kapiti ice cream from another store in the block. I had affogato and Majella had nectarine and muscovado (brown sugar).
At Tinwald on the outskirts of Ashburton we had to stop for Annie’s Country Quilt Store, the quilt shop that Majella discovered on our February trip. Like many such stores it has a bench on the front porch mostly used by men who prefer not to spend much time inside. There was a gentleman sitting there munching on a sandwich with his cup beside. I commented on his foresight in bringing supplies but it seems he was the husband of the proprietor.
Our stay at Annie’s was short but it was lunch time so we crossed the river and stopped for a picnic lunch in the Ashburton Domain. We had bought fresh bread in Tekapo and ate that with the remains of ham, sausage, tomato, and lettuce from our supplies. Lunch done, we set off for Christchurch.
As we entered Dunsandel Majella spotted the Old Church craft and gift gallery. At almost the same moment Debbie declared that it might be time for a change of driver. While Majella checked the craft I found a coffee next door and we were soon off again with me driving.
We headed for the motel where we spent our first nights in NZ to retrieve the scarf that Mum had left in the room. That had been found after Majella sent emails with a photo and was being held for us. John was not so lucky with the heart monitor strap he had left behind. It had not been sighted.
We arrived at the International Antarctic Centre just in time for the 3:00 pm storm. We pulled on the overshoes and rugged up in the coats supplied to experience a brief blizzard. If we had warmed up through the day that cooled us. Penguin feeding at 3:30 was entertaining. The blue penguins at the centre are a species found only on the Banks Peninsula and those held there are all injured in one way or another and unable to survive in the wild. We spent some time among the displays and watched some video before exiting at about 4:50 pm.
The car was due back at 6:00 pm but our flight was not until 10:15 pm so we did not need to be at the airport any earlier than 6:00 pm. Majella suggested we drive into town to the Restart Mall we had seen on Day 1. I assumed, wrongly, that she intended us to eat there. I was conscious that it would take time but agreed to try. I was surprised to discover once we reached town that her intention was just to have a look and then eat later at the airport. Who drives into peak hour Friday traffic in a partially ruined city when time is short?
We picked up fuel on the drive back to the airport and arrived there with 5 minutes to spare. With the car returned we found food for dinner and ate before checking in. Mum found time to do some last minute shopping to use those last NZ dollars before leaving the country.
Check in and clearances went smoothly. By this time Mum was becoming more confident about handling the forms and the SmartGate access. We settled in the lounge to wait for boarding and the flight home.