We managed to stay warm and had a good night’s sleep in the crowded hut. It wasn’t to bad once we were all laying down and in our sleeping bags and sleep came easily. We had a fairly normal time starting knowing that we had a long but straightforward day tramping into Lake Tekapo and would be sleeping in a real bed that night. The weather had held off over night and was still freezing with snow in the morning but nothing was actively falling from the sky. By the time we set off the kiwi guy was setting off over the saddle and the two girls were still in their sleeping bags debating what to do.
The trail quickly descended back down to the river and got our feet fully soaked again. A couple river crossings later and we were climbing back up the other side and on to a plateau above the lake where we would spend a good portion of the day walking. Our first glimpse of the lake and surrounding mountains was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately there were a lot of clouds still sitting low and although we should’ve been able to we couldn’t see Mt. Cook and most of Aroki National Park. The views were pretty good and we were no longer covered in snow though so we settled for what we could.
The rest of the track was following a mountain biking track along the top of this plateau. It was a very easy track and got quite boring after an hour. Both of us just wanted to get to town at this point. It was starting to drizzle and we could see a storm chasing us. It looked like it was already covering where we’d come from so hopefully the other guys made better decisions than we did. The only amusing part of the track was this sign that was the first time we’d ever seen that act so expressly banned.
We eventually dropped down to the road and from there it was an easy but long 16km to town. We arrived in town just in time to pop into a cafe (they always always close at 4pm) and grab a hot chocolate, pastry, and whatever else they had left. We apparently looked quite hungry as they gave us some hot cross buns to walk out with. We checked in at the Lakefront Lodge Backpackers where the man at the front desk gratefully recognized TA hikers and gave us extra special treatment. It’s super nice when people do that as these places are 100% full of ‘backpackers’ every single night so they have no real need to provide anyone special treatment. He bumped us up from the glamping tent to an actual dorm room which was quite nice. We showered and cleaned up a bit before heading back into town to do some shopping and get dinner.
The lake was an incredible blue color and we got some great up close views of it and the leaves turning as we walked around. We also saw the famous statue and church of the good shepard as we walked around. These places were of course packed with tourists so we didn’t pause for a second. There’s nothing worse than coming out of the woods and seeing a bus load of tourists get off and crowd around whatever you’re looking at or walking by (yes we’re tourists as well but obviously better than all the regular tourists). Dinner was some nice burgers and we picked up some luxury foods (pre-made sandwiches!) for our tramp towards Twizel tomorrow. There’s a shopping area in Twizel so there was no need to buy more than one days worth of food. Certainly looking forward to lighter packs tomorrow.