We're back to being happy again; the sun is shining and the fish are biting. Although, we were beginning to wonder after the calm of a beautiful sunrise, the wind blew a cold howling gale for two whole days.
While David fished the canal and pottered about the van doing some minor maintenance, I went on my own little tiki-tour north towards Tekapo, taking the back road along the canal first to check on a pair of Black Stilts we'd seen on a previous visit. They weren't there but I got to take a few photos of the dramatic clouds being formed by the nor'wester...
...and found a few wayward lupins starting to establish themselves along the canal.
Next stop was at tiny Lake Wardell where a surprise awaited me.
This was what Lake Wardell looked like when we stopped to check out the freedom camping area back in May; a festering stagnant mud pool devoid of birds and fish.
There was a bit of a controversy surrounding what was or who was at fault with the lake being drained of water. Some said it was the climate; it hadn't rained as much, others said it was a local farmer who had diverted the water course on his farm.
Public pressure won out in the end and the the lake has come back to life with the help of a clean strong flow of water coming in from the local river. The photo above was taken near where I took this one below in May.
I stopped at the lookout at the top of Lake Pukaki but Aoraki/Mt Cook was hidden in clouds. The nor'wester streaks were thinning out but the wind still blew strongly.
Lake Tekapo was extremely busy and I didn't feel inclined to wander amongst the lupins there; I could see that I was a few days late for the peak bloom, many of the stems were battered and bent. Of course this could be to do with the amount of people stumbling about in amongst them but I could also see seed pods forming. I sat in the ute and ate my lunch watching busloads of tourists swarming around the Church of the Good Shepherd.
I then headed off to Lake MacGregor where I knew there would be a lovely display (above) and where unbeknown to me one of my photos, which was taken last year, had made the front cover of the latest Motor Caravanner magazine, due out later in the week! I got home to an email letting me know, how's that for coincidence!
I was disappointed to see that many of the lupins along the stream had been sprayed this year though, and the display was nowhere near as stunning. I stopped to take a photo of this merino mum and her lamb on the way out. I find them such interesting characters.
As I returned along the highway storm clouds were gathering over the mountains alongside Lake Pukaki in one direction...
...and in the other, it was sunny and blue as I crossed Lake Pukaki's spillway. Down the far end you can see the gathering cars in the lookout car park. Mt Cook was still not visible.
I stopped at the dam gates to check out the canal for fishermen- they tend to congregate at the base of the power stations. So, I am told, do the fish- we haven't seen evidence of that yet.
The last time I stopped here was during my 'Big Snow' visit last June, what a difference!
The wind was still blowing strongly when I got home and right through the night and into the morning. We'd swapped rain for wind and it wasn't a joke. I've actually come to the conclusion that David likes the wind even less that rain!
We made the decision to head down the canal to the Ohau C campground at the head of Lake Benmore ahead of schedule just to try and get some respite from the blasted stuff. We usually pass the power station penstocks in just the ute so I took the opportunity of getting a photo this time with the 5th-wheeler on the back.
We found a relatively sheltered spot in amongst the willows in the casual camping area and settled down for a bit of peace and quiet.
It didn't take long for the locals to find us and I was put under strict instructions, "NOT TO BLOODY FEED THEM!!" (well you know how long that lasts).
The resident grebe swam by for a look too, I think he might have thought we'd brought him a mate- he certainly let us know all night he was looking for one!
How's that for the perfect spot and view out the kitchen window?
The next morning dawned sunny and calm. Things are looking up.
And we made our shortest shift ever; 10 metres to the right, out from the shelter of the trees and into the sunshine.
While David was setting up the Takacat dinghy, a friendly local (who didn't quack) motored past and handed over a lovely Rainbow trout for us. Sweet! People are so nice.
I had a wander around the campground which has several sections to it, this lovely pond and a boat ramp are at the centre.
There are quite a number of semi-permanent sites with caravans (and residents) all set up for the summer season. The camping ground is cleared over winter.
The magnificent sight of Aoraki/Mt Cook in all her glory. Who needs the Lake Pukaki lookout when you have a view like this! (zoomed in admittedly)
But still perfect wide screen...
Here's a photo from our visit to the campground last May when we both commented how bleak and miserable it was in the cold, although still beautiful with the last of the autumn colours and snow on the range across the lake. We're now parked on the other side of those bare trees at the centre right.
Yesterday, I left David in his happy place and headed off for another tiki-tour, south to Omarama this time, to check out the lupins along the Ahuriri River.