7 August 2021
The skies have stayed clear overnight but there is a very strong wind, which means that with the wind chill factor it is exceeding cold this morning. We have planned to go up to the Astro Cafe at the Mt John Observatory for breakfast and hope that the road hasn’t iced up. It doesn’t open until 10.00am so we have a leisurely start enjoying a cup of tea/coffee while enjoying the view over Lake Tekapo.
Our luck holds and the road is open. At the top the wind is so strong that we can hardly get the car doors open -and crikey it is cold! We are eternally grateful that it wasn’t this windy last night because we never would have lasted the distance. So we head straight into the cafe to warm up. Talk about a room with a view! this is definitely the best breakfast view we have had. There is cabinet food only here but we are satisfied with their pastries and more hot beverages.
Eventually we pick up enough courage to go outside and take photos of the absolutely stunning views all around. It is so spectacular that we take a vast number of photos and eventually succumb to the cold and decide to get back in the car to get warm.
Chloe has found information on the Omarama Clay Cliffs and Hot Tubs Omarama are near there too so we set off again on another expedition. First off though we drive further up the western side of Lake Tekapo to admire more of the view in the sunshine. Omarama is about 30 mins south of Twizel so it is about an hour’s drive to get there. On the way we stop again at Lake Pukaki to look at the visitor center (and to sample some Mt Cook Alpine salmon). The lake is a deep blue today and Aoraki Mt Cook is shrouded in cloud again.
The Clay Cliffs are located close to the north bank of the Ahuriri River, about 10 km to the west of Omarama township. They are classic ‘badlands’ formations with towering pinnacles and canyons, that were originally part of a lake that has been eroded over time to leave the spectacular structures we see now. I had never seen anything like this in NZ (and most people I spoke to afterwards didn’t know they existed either). We spent a good hour or so walking along the bottom of the cliffs and exploring the canyons (and taking lots more photos of course).
We had booked our Hot Tub for 2.00. There are 10 wood-fired cedar hot tubs that have been landscaped so that each hot tub is private and screened off from most of the wind, whilst still having a view (our view is of the duck pond and beyond). We have the use of the hot tub for 1.5 hours and we purchase some champagne to enjoy as well. No food is allowed in the hot tub but we pre-order a cheese platter and a mini-dessert platter for when we get out. These are absolutely amazing and we make quick work of demolishing them.
Then we drive back to Tekapo, trying to get a good view of sunset over Lake Tekapo on the way. We have wine and nibbles back at the house before getting ready for dinner. We have learnt the lesson that we need to book a restaurant (particularly on Saturday night) – and have booked at the Blue Lake Eatery. It is lovely food but I don’t really do it justice having had lunch at 4.00pm. We do have some good entertainment as there is an 80s dance party on in town and everyone is walking around in hilarious 80s costumes.