I’ve always had a love for mountains by the water. Quite possibly because I am from one of the driest and flattest places on earth. Hawaii was one of my first loves for this reason and now I can add the South Island of New Zealand to the list (The North Island isn’t as beautiful, scenic or polite)
A few years ago my brother and I, on our first and last trip together, decided to hire a car and spend just under a month travelling around the South Island. In between trips to Queenstown and overnight boat trips on the Fjord of Milford Sound, Franz Josef, Christchurch and Greymouth we reached a little town in the heart of the island – Lake Tekapo. Although my brother’s main purpose for the trip was to try yet another international beer, go bungee jumping and if he could, get rid of me for an hour to get laid, this little town gave us both two days full of the beauty of doing nothing other than hiking and taking in the breath-taking scenery.
Upon driving into Lake Tekapo from Christchurch we were slightly distressed. His concern? There were no girls. My concern? I need a microscope to see it. The actual town is tiny. As you drive into the town it is maybe half a mile littered with a few pubs, a small supermarket and some souvenir type shops.
Behind the backdrop of our concerns was Lake Tekapo. This lake stretches across 82 square kilometres (32 square miles) and is 710 metres (2300 feet) above sea level. On the bank of the Lake is the Church of the Good Shepherd built in 1935 and was the first church in the Mackenzie Basin. The church is one of the most photographed in New Zealand. As it was only fitting, I made my brother kneel and beg forgiveness for one of his many, many sins. And proceeded to take a photograph.
One downside of this tiny town is the lack of two beds in the accommodation. Sharing the same bed as my brother – which we do not talk about without wincing or shouting the other is so violent in bed (tossing, turning and kicking) that it makes a Jean-Claude Van damme movie look like a romantic comedy – was painful.
We spent the three days we had at this little gem of a town reading, meditating, spending hours at the pub playing pool and drinking Sambuca as the sunset over the lake, driving around and exploring the endless areas and beauty given by this area and hiking the snow-capped mountains that overlooked the lake.The name Tekapo, a local explained, was derived by the Māori words Taka (meaning mat) and Po (night) The turquoise color of the lake is formed by the finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters.
Unable to get laid (him) and drunk on Sambuca (me) and with the attention span of a walnut between both of us, the tiny town gave is a glimpse into someone elses life. The easy laid-back lifestyle, the unbeatable natural beauty made this tiny town stand out from the others we visited that month. There are times I remember sitting by the lake and its eternal peacefulness. And wish I was back there, if only long enough to mediate and breathe in some fresh air.