Hello! Welcome to “New Zealand: The Sights”, a series of chapters recounting my visual journey throughout the beautiful countryside of New Zealand’s South Island. If you’re interested in some minor anecdotes, click through to my ramblings here. If not, read on.

Kicking us off, we travelled a long way to Lake Coleridge - the first of many lakes to come. Now, you’re gonna get this a lot and it really can’t be emphasised enough - New Zealand is a gorgeous country with stunning vistas everywhere you look, making it tough to keep my eyes on the road. Even empty plains were a sight to behold.

Driving out from Christchurch was straightforward, even on the gravel paths. However, due to a lack of research, my experience with Lake Coleridge wasn’t the best it could’ve been. Unaware that the surrounding mountains were scalable, I drove straight to the lakefront and missed out on the bigger picture. Despite my shortcoming, it was still a treat for the eyes and was a great sampler for what’s in store.

the long gravel path continues into the forest
the lake water precedes the mountain ranges a pole sticks out of the lake as a marker
a scuba diver walks up the gravel hill a gorgeous view at one side of Lake Coleridge

From Coleridge, we travelled a longer way until Lake Tekapo, but I was gifted with a miserable attempt of visiting Peel Forest. Just… terrible.

a panoramic view of New Zealand mountains New Zealand mountain with a touch of snow vast fields of green in New Zealand's countryside hills and mountains in the beautiful countryside of New Zealand

The Lake Tekapo township was tiny, with food and drink being the only things keeping you entertained. Or on cloudy nights, you can hole up in the warmth of your bed and binge through all episodes of the rebooted Queer Eye on a solid internet connection that won’t have you staring at four pixels at a time Yaaaaass queeeeen~ The lake, on the other hand, was anything but. Gorgeous snow capped mountains lingered far off in the distance as waves from the large body of water lapped back and forth. Though it doesn’t show in the pictures, the water was incredibly blue and the temperatures were freezing cold as winds gusted you off your feet.

a walkway bridge allows for crossing Lake Tekapo looking down the aisle of the bridge at Lake Tekapo a wide landscape of Lake Tekapo and the popular Church of the Good Shepherd a tree stump sits in the waters of Lake Tekapo

Each morning, there would be an attempt at catching sunrise and each morning, the odds were against me. The same applied to sunset. Sun-kissed mountain peaks were as rare as honest politicians. On this morning, I made my way out to Lake Alexandrina for the first of many attempts. Going from roadside to lakeside, the sunrise was quickly making its exit and I still hadn’t taken a snap. I was on thin ice, literally. Carefully weaving through the thickets, I was tempting fate with each crunching footstep, ever ready to feel my leg sink into the icy waters. And after all that effort, I had nothing to show for it - it just wasn’t there.

a half withered tree stands in the foreground of the vast mountain scape

For the rest of the day, I exhausted my body with a ~4hr round trip hike up Mount Cook on the Hooker Valley track. Without weights excess of several kilos, the hike would’ve been a breeze. Carrying a bunch of gear to satiate your hobby hunger? My shoulders were in for a greeeaat time. Though stretching for many kilometres, the track was predominantly level, making it incredibly easy. Before the big pay-off that is Hooker Lake, the track does treat you to some marvellous views (Mueller Lake especially) but a lot of it is more or less the same, allowing you to focus on complaining about your shoulders giving you grief instead.

The drive to and from was phenomenal, of course
a large stream of blue water stands in the way of the road the wide span of the water stream cuts through the New Zealand land
a panoramic view of the Mackenzie's region of New Zealand a view of Mount Cook with Lake Pukaki in the foreground the long empty road leads you to wonders in New Zealand winding roads route around Lake Pukaki and lead up to Mount Cook directions are painted on the road to direct drivers beautiful New Zealand landscapes snow capped mountains can be seen in the distance of the New Zealand fields the large mountains dwarf everything in comparison sheep nibble on the field's shrubbery From the walk: the snow peak has a thin veil of clouds a large valley in the Mount Cook National Park beautiful mountains in the Mount Cook National Park Mueller Lake is hidden by the rocks and mountain face the cloudy sky looms over the shrubbery sharp prickly shrubbery These things can go to hell. The slightest contact caused unending discomfort Mueller Lake with a slight reflection of the mountains snow buries the true colour of the mountain range Mueller Lake with a large mountain range
the blue water stream cleans the vast amount of rocks a stream passes through the many rocks
a lone hiker is dwarfed by the massive mountain mountains with a thick layer of clouds above it a couple walking along the Hooker Valley track mountains covered with a large amount of snow sharp jagged mountains with snow a suspension bridge crosses the small water stream piles of rocks build up behind the plantlife the gravel walking path weaves through the mountain ranges an open area of empty plains in the New Zealand countryside grassy mountains and snowy mountains on the Hooker Valley track

Reaching the end of the track, the view of Hooker Lake was just incredible. However, I was shafted by nature with a lack of ice blocks dotted around the water. Instead, I was able to enjoy the stunning mountain scape with a large puddle with some glacier remnants washed ashore. With one part a strong desire to get a closer shot and the other part curious to see what view laid between the mountains, I was ready to tempt fate once again.

less typical mountain shapes covered in snow a panoramic sshot of Hooker Lake and mountains a large rock sits in the foreground of the Hooker Lake landscape mountains capped with pure white snow a long exposed shot of Hooker Lake many rocks and boulders lay on the Hooker Lake shore the concave mountains cradle a large amount of snow

Looking at the mounds of loose dirt, dense undergrowth and jagged rocks, I easily made my way up and routed along the top. Hopping from rock to rock, I crossed my fingers and prayed that I wouldn’t have to eat shit. Looking back, I travelled a surprisingly long way but I wasn’t able to discover what was in the valley beyond. I did get some sweet close-ups though.

a diagram explaining where I went and why the snowy mountain peak is shrouded with cloud cover a wide panoramic view of Hooker Lake snow weaves itself around the mountain at Hooker Lake Hooker Lake view from the side looking at the common area Applying some CSI level zooms, you can see the minuscule people by the shore

On the way back, we stopped by the Lake Pukaki viewpoint for a botched attempt at pink skies (waited hours, too!). Sunset aside, the lake was just a vast body of beauty. Absolute stunner.

someone's Toyota van painted to be like the Mystery Machine from the Scooby Doo franchise Jinkies! Were there a lot of decorated vehicles seen during my trip Lake Pukaki from the visiting centre's car park's shore

With that, my day ended and so has part one for NZ: The Sights - Canterbury. Thank you for reading and join me next time for part two, where I return to Mount Cook but take on the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier walk.