The road heading north out of Omarama (I think) leads through Twizel [pronounced Twyz-l, not Twiz-l] to the southern end of Lake Pukaki. From there, zoom up the western edge of Lake Pukaki and you come to a dead end at the foot of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3754m/12200ft. It’s a biggie. With a sunny morning, that’s where we decided to head.
We didn’t get far before stopping. A road bridge just outside of Omarama (I think) crossed a river lined with plagues of lupins. Francine broke out the camera yet again. I plugged up my nose against the rather cloying scent. I’m thoroughly lupined out now, or that’s my lupinion. They are a colourful spectacle, though, in a weedy sort of way. The area was also a freedom camping area which looked reasonable if we could ever pluck up the courage to try it. Not sure I could take the scent of the lupins for a whole night, though; it’s be like sleeping in the perfume section of a department store. They all smell the same, don’t they? “Lupin, by Givenchy”.
Next stop was in Twizel at “Poppies world famous café”. I always wonder how such places get to be world famous, if, indeed, they are. A self proclamation, perhaps. Being a sunny Sunday, lots of folks were sitting out in the sun eating a world famous breakfast/brunch. World famous Eggs Benedict seemed to be the popular choice and it did look good. I’d had toast and Vegemite already but I was quite envious. The world famous coffee was good, though.
Outside the not so famous 4-Square supermarket I managed to step in some melting tar – surely it wasn’t that hot – and walked it inside Busby, whose floor latched onto it with great aplomb. “Bother!”, said Pooh, crossly. In the absence of any bona fide tar remover at the local garage, I bought a large bottle of methylated spirits to try. “If it doesn’t work, you can always drink it”, remarked the witty petrol station attendant. I asked if they sold lime juice, too. Regrettably not. It sort of worked but only sort of. Maybe methylated spirits would be OK with tonic and a slice of lemon? This might rival Douglas Adams’s pangalactic gargleblaster.
We had lunch staring up Lake Pukaki towards Mount Cook, whose summit appeared cloaked in cloud, whichever of the candidate peaks it was. A family of Orientals impacted on the otherwise rural serenity with one of those intensely irritating drone contrivances. In NZ’s favour, we’ve seen several areas signed as drone-free zones. Excellent! I’m thinking of marketing an small radio-controlled anti-aircraft gun to shoot the blasted things down. Alternatively, perhaps I could borrow the Santa-slaying [sleighing – get it?] artillery piece from Oamaru (I think).
I kind of expect roads in mountain areas to be tortuous and slow. Not here; we zoomed up beside Lake Pukaki on what would pass for a major road almost anywhere [not in the States, of course – just two lanes, one in either direction]. Doing the national speed limit of 100kph was not a problem, though that would’ve missed some of the beautiful scenery.
As we neared Mount Cook, we saw that the clouds that had appeared to be shrouding it were actually in front of it and that the peak itself was actually largely clear. It’s a good looking mountain with a suitably sharp summit. Mountains should look like the Matterhorn. Ben Nevis in Scotland is only one-third the size and boringly rounded on top.