Lake Tekapo: at the crack of doom!

Lake Tekapo: at the crack of doom!

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All the people who have to go through life without ever experiencing Wiedersehensfreude

Wiedersehensfreude is one of those german words that really should have an english translation but doesn’t. It’s the joy you feel when you are reunited with someone. And it’s the best! It always is. It’s my favourite feeling in the world and it never disappoints. Seeing my family again is so joyful and fulfilling, the memory of and anticipation for it keeps me going through long months of being 16.400 km apart. Through times when the 8-10 hours time difference does matter, when sadness demands to be soothed, joy longs to be shared, advice is needed and familiarity is sorely missed. When feelings cannot be postponed to the next Skype call, or when I just want to be there with them for a specific moment in their lives.

The reunions make up for those times and that inability to be there. They are of course no perfect replacement, but they are so so special. To me, they in themselves are irreplaceable.

Unfortunately, leaving sucks almost as much as seeing each other again is awesome. The only thought that I can allow myself to have when it’s time to leave again is that without leaving, we’d never be able to have that unique experience of seeing each other again. All the people who have to go through life without ever experiencing Wiedersehensfreude. Poor things! I really am incredibly lucky to get those amazing moments so rather frequently!

that’s exactly what it was like in Christchurch, the morning of the 18th of November, at 5am

The memories of the reunions and the anticipation for the next one, really do bring comfort.
I like to close my eyes and just remember the last time I got off that plane, in Munich or Hobart or wherever it may have been. I remember the excitement that is so great that it makes me want to do cartwheels, even after 24+ hours of travelling, so happy, so eager to walk through those doors.. And then I’m there and everything is pure happiness and joy!

So yeah, that’s exactly what it was like in Christchurch, the morning of the 18th of November, at 5am after that very short night. It was AWESOME!

After a little nap and some breakfast we make our way to the rental company to pick up the camper. Happy as we are to finally be together and have the whole 24 days of cruising New Zealand ahead of us, we don’t even notice, not to mention care, about the hours that go past. The same goes for the inspection of the camper. The only thing that we do admittedly notice at this point is that the storage room is, to use generous terms, surprisingly small.. The guy at the final check-out gives us some handy tips, shows us trip suggestions on a map and asks if we would like to take out insurance against rolling-over of the vehicle. It seems an unlikely event but better be safe than sorry. He proclaims this to be a wise choice especially since it was only last week that two of their campers were actually flipped over by the strong winds. We chuckle out of courtesy and take out the insurance, regardless of the rather doubtful story.

It takes a couple of extra laps around two roundabouts to find our way

Leaving the rental place on our way to pick up the hire bikes proves to be the first challenge we’re  faced with. It takes a couple of extra laps around two roundabouts to find our way but soon we’re headed the right direction with the bikes strapped up and most of our possessions secured away as best as possible. A quick (2 hour) stop at the next supermarket reduces our space in the camper to practically non-existent.

We discuss our options and decide on the destination for today, Lake Tekapo. A friend of mine in Hobart (thank’s Jesse!) had been particularly enthusiastic about this place and I was excited to check it out. To our surprise we learn that the navigation app Papa had downloaded is just for Australia and does not include New Zealand. After finding out that the same app for New Zealand only, is almost double the price of one for the whole of Europe (including the UK!), we’d rather try our luck with a map. (a couple of days later we are rewarded for this decision: for some unknown reason the price of the New Zealand navigation app has been reduced by half!)

we discover with regret the complete absence of an AUX port 

The drive on the windy, inland road requires special concentration due to the gusty winds that howl in-between the transitions of the rows of hedges. They do love their hedges, the kiwis, and not for nothing! Kilometre after kilometre, every field is guarded by enormous, thick hedges, grown and pruned to serve as wind guards.

Not before long we discover with regret the complete absence of an AUX port and the rather disgraceful imitation of a car stereo. I must say, I am a little disappointed. My plan, to listen to the playlist I made specifically for this trip to get us in the mood for the Falls festival, sadly succumbs to the camper.

 

 

 

 

Suddenly the hills open up and what takes place before us is breathtaking!

Referring to the map we are only a couple of bends away from our destination, yet the idyllic scenery speckled with sheep, doesn’t even give a hint of the majestic lake that we are approaching.

Suddenly the hills open up and what takes place before us is simply breathtaking! A violent storm whipping at a bright turquoise, alpine lake that’s stretching as far as the eye can reach between snow-covered mountain ranges. A spectacular play of colour, illuminating light and spray! We pull over at a lookout and watch in awe. The wind is so strong, you have to lean in with all your weight to make your way forward. It’s incredible! Some of the gusts are almost frightening. The before doubtful story of the two flipped campers comes to mind!

 

 

The atmosphere is eerie. The never-ending wailing of the siren mixed with the roaring winds …

We start to feel a bit uneasy and leave the lookout to find our way to the campground. We barely make it 500 metres until an especially powerful gust forces us to pull over at the little town site. Just as we come to a halt a siren starts wailing in close proximity. When it doesn’t stop after a couple of minutes Papa and I decide to go to one of the shops to ask about what’s going on. The atmosphere is eerie. The never-ending wailing of the siren mixed with the roaring winds is deafening. In Austria, a siren that is sustained for three minutes is a signal of utmost warning: natural-, technical- or nuclear disasters. The shop keeper seems slightly confused about our question but ensures us that the siren is quite normal, an alert for the volunteer fire and rescue service. It will just keep wailing until someone comes to turn it off (15 minutes later, this finally happens), no reason to worry. The winds however, were recorded around 140km/h and she cannot give us an answer to whether it would be better for us to seek a more sheltered place. We call the campground to ask for their opinion.

Emilia: “We have a pretty big camper, do you think it will be safe for us to stay the night?”

Receptionist: “What do you mean, ‘safe’?!”

Emilia: “I mean because of the wind!? Is it likely that we’ll be rolled over?”

She bursts into laughter, “We’ve had much stronger winds here and no roll-overs yet!”

Our on-board bathroom is exempt from all it’s bathroom duties for the duration of this trip.

Happily reassured and feeling a bit silly we make our way down to the campground which is located at the picturesque shore of lake Tekapo in a sheltered pine forest. We cook some dinner and celebrate the first day in our cozy camper with some wine, much laughter and story telling. Meanwhile it’s starting to rain. We try to delay the trip to the bathrooms to brush teeth for as long as possible, it’s going to be a wet one! Our on-board bathroom has been converted into a storage room and is exempt from all it’s bathroom duties for the duration of this trip.

The next morning, we awake to blue skies and sunshine and Papa and me go for a refreshing jog at the lake. Life is blissful!

Unfortunately the weather forecast for Lake Tekapo is rather grim for the next few days and reveals that the morning sunshine is only a brief enticement, soon to be giving into rainfalls and temperatures ranging between 9-15°C. We decide to head south and to the coast, hopefully the sun will follow our example!

(text: Emilia Wieser, photos: Markus Wieser)

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One Response

  1. Merve
    | Reply

    I love this church – have been there saeervl times (I’m a Kiwi!). It was built on the lake shore as a memorial to the pioneers of the MacKenzie Country, nearby stands a very touching memorial to the dogs who worked this country as well. A stunningly beautiful spot.

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