Tuesday 17 April 2012: Contrasts
The journey from Cromwell to Tekapo - home of the Mount John Observatory - is an absolutely stunning one, so much so that it's so hard to pick out just one highlight. The scenery changes from the mountains and lakes to a more desolate and wild one - vast expanses of open space and rugged, desolate hills which are home to many of the merino sheep that supply the beautiful merino wool that has grown in popularity over the past few years (and which keeps me warm throughout the winter!) They're tough sheep to live in this environment - winter temperatures plummet below zero and stay there for days, summer temperatures can stay above 30 degrees for days. They're a pretty hardy breed of people too.
Grahame Sydney has paid tribute to this part of Central Otago with his stunning paintings and, more recently, photography. It really is a gorgeous place to visit, although I don't feel I'm built of strong enough stuff to survive here for too long. There were times today though when I though it would be cool to give it a go . . . . Today's image is vaguely inspired by Mr Sydney.
In to Tekapo late afternoon and just managed to secure the last spot on the last Observatory/star watching tour of the night. I was so excited. I was told to dress warmly and they'd supply jackets for everyone to wear - jackets which have been used in Antactica so I figured even I'd be warm enough! I idled away some time then headed down to the meeting point at the assigned meeting time. After 5 minutes of waiting and listening in on a few of their phone calls it became apparent that they were going to have to cancel our trip :( The trip promises a tour of the skies/stars through their powerful telescopes but, in the even that the weather doens't play ball, their back-up activity is a tour of the research facility and star-gazing equipment. It just happened that there's a Canterbury University course going on at the moment and they are using the research facility and star-gazing equipment which meant that it wasn't' available for other use. With the weather threatening to close in and no back-up plan if it did, they simply couldn't guarantee us the experience we were expecting so they reluctanlty made the decision to cancel. Whilst I was very disappointed I know I can come back another time. The tourists from Japan and Australia though who were on tight schedules would have been bitterly disappointed I guess.
Another stunning day in Paradise.