Stepping back a little, in mid December I made my way though the Otago region in the middle of the south island.


It's December, and that means xmas apparently.  As I passed through Geraldine, a small town of ~5000, their annual 'Santa Parade' was about to start.  What was most interesting to me wasn't the parade, we have them back home, but the fact that it's Santa, and summer.  Still getting my head around that.

  Dancing GalThough a small town, they had more than 50 floats ranging from vintage cars groups, local kids singing or skating, and parading animals around dressed in xmas ornaments.  You can tell they weren't impressed by their distinct 'kill me' look on their face.

Disgruntled GoatDepressed Sheep

On the way to Lake Tekapo and Mt John, the winds picked up, and the tent nearly did as well.  The lake is an aqua blue from the glacial flour in the water, and Mt John above is home to an observatory.  The light pollution is minimal here, and strictly kept under wraps, making for unbelievable looks at the night sky.  A short hike to the top of Mt John greets you with intense winds and good views all around.

 Errie CloudsSun setting toward Tekapo

 Beautiful LightClimbing Mt John (very intense)Overlooking Lake Tekapo

Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park was next up, and though the weather along beautiful Lake Pukaki, you could see the clouds in the distance hiding all of the peaks in the park.  the cloud was low, and the rain was coming down.  In and out without a peek at the peak, and towards Omarama and the Clay Cliffs.

Lake Pukaki

The Clay Cliffs are accessible by a private road and $5 fee.  Reminded me a little of Bryce Canyon, Utah.  The sun was getting low, and the colors better as we headed to another interesting natural phenomenon in the Elephant Rocks.  The sun was setting and the light fast disappearing.  Couchsurfed with Rene near Omaru for the evening who greeted the very late arrival with open arms.

Clay Cliffs

Clay Cliffs

Elephant Rocks

Moeraki Boulders at sunrise was a fantastic sight.  Like giant eggs, they sit on the beach as the waves come in.  Very interesting how they came to be, but when you look at it in the context of New Zealand, you expect these wild and amazing things to come to you at regular intervals.

Moeraki Boulders @ SunriseMoeraki Boulders @ Sunrise

We're getting into penguin territory as we're heading towards Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.  A neat spot just outside of the city called Tunnel Beach gets you access to a beach surrounded by cliffs via a small tunnel.  It's quiet given the overcast skies and occasional showers, but a sea-lion doesn't mind the weather so much.

@ Tunnel BeachNear Tunnel Beach

Near DunedinSealion - Beach Owner

Aoraki/Mount Cook