Day 16 Sunday 2 March – Lake Tekapo, Depart Christchurch

This morning, after breakfast, we retraced our steps to Twizel and then travelled to the beautiful Lake Tekapo, which runs parallel to Lake Ohau and covers 83 square kilometres.  We stopped at the Church of the Good Shepherd, which, in 1935, was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin. The church, which was built as a tribute to the region’s early pioneers, features an altar window that frames the stunning views of the lake and mountains.

Close to the Church of the Good Shepherd is a bronze statue of a New Zealand Collie sheepdog.  The statue was commissioned by Mackenzie Country residents in recognition of the indispensable role of the sheepdog in their livelihoods.

We continued our journey down the mountain and could see the Canterbury Plains to the sea – about 50 kilometres away. We stopped for a break/early lunch at Geraldine before continuing our journey.  Along the way we saw some Irrigation Catchment ponds next to the Orari River – they are not allowed to draw water straight from the river but must wait for rain or floods.

We drove through Rakaia, and then continued on to Christchurch, where we were taken for a drive through the city and were saddened to see how much devastation there was from the earthquake in February 2011.  Many buildings are still in the same damaged state, either waiting for repairs or demolition.  The trams are running again and punting on the Avon River is operational again and the city is slowly returning to normal.

Laurie gave us a lovely farewell in Maori, which translated to English said “We welcomed you as visitors and farewell you as family.”

We dropped some people off at their hotels in Christchurch and then the rest of us were taken to the airport for our flights home.

All in all, we have travelled 4,300 kilometres in New Zealand on the coach and we have used 2,800 litres of diesel fuel.

Our flight to Sydney was with Qantas’ code-share partner, Emirates Boeing 777-300 and the four of us sat in the middle together in a 3-4-3 configuration, reminiscing about our wonderful holiday together. On arrival in Sydney, after our farewells, Maria and Dennis were picked up by friends and we transferred to Qantas Domestic for our flight home to Brisbane. All of our flights were on time and we arrived in Brisbane at 8.30pm – Janet picked us up and delivered us home for a good night’s sleep in our own beds after a long, long day.


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