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Cycling New Zealand — The Lupins and “Rock Flour” of Lake Tekapo

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The Southern Alps, Lake Tekapo and the town (scroll-right) viewed from the top of Mt John

15 photos and movies (movie) by Steven Hill and Rebecca Heald, steephill.tv
(The free QuickTime player may be needed to view the movies)

video
Click the pic to watch or click here
Fives minutes of helmetcam down the fun, wide-open, Mt John descent. Also available with a Bob Dylan soundtrack.

video
Click the pic to watch or click here
lake-tekapo-map.gif A short, relaxing ride with a little climbing is a good way to end a travel day. After checking into our tailor-made Backpackers at Lake Tekapo, Michael, the host, recommended a short (20k) out and back to the Mt. John Observatory overlooking Lake Tekapo, one of New Zealand's famous turquoise (“rock flour”) lakes. With daylight until 9:30 PM, we had plenty of time for our evening ride.

It was still warm and the roads were quiet with a clean smell that reminded me of the Sierra Nevada in California when it starts to cool in the evening. The smell turned flowery as we rolled past thick, colorful patches of lupins in shades of purple, pink and yellow lining the sides of the road. After a short warm-up we started the 4k, 300m climb to the Mt. John Observatory.

Comet over Mt John
Comet passing through Mt John's night sky
Alan Gilmore
The observatory site is jointly developed by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Canterbury starting back in 1960. Among the strengths of the Mt. John location are the large number of clear nights, a dark sky not polluted by artificial light from any nearby town or city, a site reasonably close to power and water supplies and main roads and not too far from a city (Christchurch). Apparently, Mt. John is one of the best sites for observing the Milky Way.

After reaching the top and taking a few photos, I setup the helmetcam and recorded the entire five minute descent. Despite some glare, it was the best helmetcam footage of the trip thanks to the wide-open landscape and a narrow, twisty road that snaked its way closer to Lake Tekapo. — Steve, January 30th, 2007


sheep-lupine-w1250.jpg

Purple lupines of every shade.jpg
Lupins in every shade of purple
Lupine close-up.jpg
Lupin close-up
A closer close-up.jpg
A closer close-up
Mt John Observatory welcome sign.jpg
Mt. John Observatory welcome sign
The short but steep climb to the top.jpg
The short but steep climb to the top
Dancing around a scenic corner.jpg
Dancing around a scenic corner
Seeing white in the other direction.jpg
Seeing white in the other direction
Rebecca's backside descent.jpg
Rebecca's backside descent
Feeling lupie?.jpg
Feeling lupie?
Lake Tekapo before it's world famous sunset.jpg
Lake Tekapo before its world famous sunset

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