Mackenzie bronze dog chilled in the snow
Tekapo had its biggest snow fall in 40 years over 18/19 June creating a winter wonderland. Guests woke to whiteout. Their vehicles were buried and the roads out of Tekapo had disappeared. Nothing for it but to sit tight and have a long breakfast by the fire and absorb the stunning vista.
Lake Tekapo from Mt John 1 July 2013
Some guests could not check in and some could not check out …But all were very gracious and seemed to enjoy the excitement of deep snow. Nicholas and Jessica had planned an extended stay photographing Tekapo. They were caught up in the white stuff and were intrepid enough to brave the elements for the sake of art. Nicholas kindly allowed me to post some of his photographs – quite simply some of the most beautiful views of Tekapo in winter. Many thanks.
Church of the Good Shepherd Tekapo June 2013 by Nicholas Tan
The snow stayed around for many days with the Mt John Observatory road finally opeing on 1July. After wind and rain a few days later most of the snow melted away. However as I write this I am looking at a sprinkle of snow like icing sugar on the near landscape.
Alistair is very happy as he got to experience cross country skiing over the golf course and terminal moraine. We are off to one of the four local skifields, Round Hill, today as it is clear and bright blue and white for 360 degrees.
Lake Tekapo June 2013 by Nicholas Tan
With the crisp cooler autumn weather and longer nights, stargazing in Tekapo has continued to be a main attraction. The Lodge is across the road from the local star gazing business, Earth and Sky and many of our guests experience this amazing tour to the top of Mt John to view the dark sky through telescopes and cameras.
Last week we had the pleasure of the company of Geof and Chris. Brits on an extended holiday they stayed with us three nights to ensure best opportunity for stargazing. Geof is a keen astronomer and fortunately managed to get some brilliant astrophotographic shots. He very kindly emailed me some of his images which are posted here. They are taken with extended exposure to capture the depth of the night sky.
Tekapo night sky May 2013
Fortunately for Geof, his guide Dallas mentioned at some ungodly hour of the morning last Wednesday (like 1.30am as they were pottering around on top of a mountain) that the strange glow to the south shouldn’t be there. They duly focused the camera and managed to photograph the Aurora Australis – that’s the funny green sky in the photo. Low cloud masked the curtains of light but Geof was thrilled to see the southern lights. He hasn’t seen the Northern Lights so here is a tip – travel halfway round the world and you may just be lucky enough to see this incredible natural phenomenon. Eat your heart out Joanna Lumley.
Thanks for the pix Geof and glad you could relax with dinner in front of the fire the final night – mission accomplished!
Our friends at the local regional Aoraki Business Development Board have initiated a seriously cool campaign to promote the South Canterbury area.
One of our local friends, Mike from Tekapo Springs, entered the competition with a video on Tekapo. It is very amusing and some of it was filmed here at the lodge…. enough said but Mike’s win is subject to the number of unique views so please friends, watch and “make your day”! Watch here
Just in case you don’t have the immediate pleasure of our resounding “Kia Ora” upon arrival, guests may now be entertained by our new staff member posing at the front door.
There is good news and bad news.
The good news is that he is very low maintenance, demands few benefits and is always available to work on a public holiday.
The bad news is that really, between us, he is a hopeless concierge. Lack of local knowledge may be understandable as he rarely ventures past the front door. However he never answers his phone and will not/cannot chat comfortably with our guests. Don’t be offended if you get a blank stare from him – his eyes are permanently glazed… dreaming of rabbits?
He joined us from a fantastically creative artist based in the Wairarapa, Sean Crawford. We commissioned Sean to create this Border Collie as we are dog lovers and have always admired his work. We have named our new canine Sean MacFriday – Friday being James Mackenzie’s dog…
A brand new 9 hole golf course is now open in Tekapo and it is only a few minutes walk from the lodge – The Cairns. Developed by the enterprising Simpson family, it is another venture to add to their Balmoral Merino meat and LoveMyMerino wool clothing range.
The Cairns from Mt John Walkway
The course was opened by Sir Bob Charles but we didn’t manage to get there for the celebrations due to hosting commitments. However, a week later, a lovely Australian couple staying in house advised me they were off to Twizel to play golf after breakfast. “But why not Tekapo?” I exclaimed. They didn’t have clubs with them, but no problem. I rang Andrew and he said he could supply clubs and cart. The green fees and hire are so inexpensive our guests didn’t believe me at first. So off we went to meet Andrew on site where he set up our guests for a game and then gave me a quick tour of the course.
The course has one of the best views of the area overlooking Lake Tekapo with snow-capped mountains in all directions. The terrain is largely untouched with the mountain tarns as water hazards. It is a natural unspoilt environment just stunning in the magnificence of the scenery. And there was no one else there! Walking tracks and mountain bike trails are still to be established along with a clubhouse. The Simpsons see it as a community facility and welcome everyone to use the space.
Alistair is making noises about joining the club. I told him he would be too busy too chase small white balls but I think he has his eye on a few games when some mates come down to stay. Welcome to golf widowship… and ski widowship and hunting widowship…
Brother Richard arrived from Rotorua to stay early January proudly presenting me with the latest edition of The Cut which features The Cairns on the front cover. As an avid golfer (his wife Mary conceded defeat and learned to play) he “tested” the course and reported back favourably. There were grumblings about lost balls but we know where the fault lies with that particular dilemma!
Guests who arrive at Lake Tekapo Lodge late afternoon could factor in a twilight 9 holes. In summer it does not get dark until 10pm and those glorious calm warm evenings are conducive to a round. We can arrange hireage for you so no excuses. The Cairns has to be one of the most uniquely picturesque courses in New Zealand.
Hey Jan there’s the hand, Lake Wanaka
Well we have been at the lodge for three months now and just loving everything about it – the wonderful guests, the amazing scenery, the welcoming locals…
If this is work then show me leisure! Every day is like having friends staying, serving them beautifully prepared food, offering a comfortable room and chatting away about so many things. By the time our guests leave I need to hug them close. Sharing our lodge is more than a business, we are sharing our home. One of the greatest rewards is the feedback from guests where they truly appreciate the attention to detail. Our precious artworks and family silverware, the fresh flowers, the newly picked salad from our terrace garden… just what we would expect when we stay at a small private hotel.
One of our gorgeous guest couples, Mark and Jan from Texas, took many photos of the lodge and Mark has shared his album with me to post some of his images. Thanks so much Mark – my point and shoot photos leave a lot to be desired…
Lake Tekapo Lodge artwork
Llew Summers is a highly regarded Christchurch sculptor – I love his work and have several pieces on display in the lodge. One of my recent acquisitions is a clay slip miniature of the bronze “The Hand that Nutures” which is protectively sited on the Lake Wanaka waterfront. Mark and Jan were quite taken by the artwork and I had suggested they look out for the original bronze when passing through Wanaka. As Mark wrote to me he said “Hey Jan – there’s the hand!!” with photos to prove it. Good on you Mark!
So here are some of Mark and Jan’s images… enjoy.
Mark and Jan’s room – the Tekapo