Saturday, June 7, 2008

New Zealand Artist's Tour: Tekapo, Mount Cook, Lake Manapouri and the Monument, Queenstown


Tekapo is virtually in the middle of South island . Tekapo takes it's name from the lake it resides by . The area around Tekapo is known as McKenzie country , so called after a famous shepherd who opened up the area. Lake Tekapo is a natural glacial lake that has an iridecent tourqeouse glow to it . This is caused by the morain sediment in the water.

The land around Tekapo is used predominently to raise sheep, which it is very suited for . Tekapo it self is at the head of the lake which is a very small community with a few shops , a hostel and a camp site. At the other end of the lake there are the Southern alps. There are a number of walks in the area that give panoramic views .

The Church of our Good Shepherd is in rememberence of the Shepherd dogs that work on the Sheep stations . The church is small and there is a window behind the alter that gives a full view of Lake Tekapo .

Mount Cook

Mount Cook is one of the most famous land marks of the world . It is synonymous with New Zealand and every NZer identifies with it . Mount Cook is at the heart of the Mount Cook national park which is accessible from two directions . Either from the West Coast via the Copland track or along the 35 kilometre road leading upto the Mount Cook Hermitage .

If you walk over the Copland track you will walk into the Hooker valley opposite Mount Cook. Traveling up from the main highway there is a panoramic view of Mount Cook.

There are three places you can stay in the Mount Cook national park. Either in the Mount Cook Hermitage hotel which is a five star hotel. You can camp at the site of the old hermitage at the foot of Mount Sefton, a camping ticket is needed before you pitch your tent and this can be obtained at the Mount Cook advice centre or you can camp at the Glenn Tanner camp site which is half way up the road to Mount Cook and gives commanding views of Mount Cook on a clear day.

The later is near the airport where you can take a flight in a small aircrsft up the Tasman Glacier and around Mount Cook for a breath taking flight.Dont forget your camera and spare film .

There is a lot to see and do in the Mount Cook national park . For the day visitor there are a number of short tracks which give you the opportunity to take in the views . There is the visitors centre which gives a short talk and slide show on the history of rock climbing in and around Mount Cook . Also there are some ideallic views of the surrounding area for the artist who wants to make a quick sketch . For those that wish to stay longer there are a number of longer walks . One up the Hookers Valley , another up to the Seally Tarns and also the walk upto the Tasman Glacier .

For those more adventurous there is plenty of opportunity to climb in the area . As well as all of this you can also take the previously mentioned scenic flights from the Glen Tanner air strip .

If you have the time I would recommend you stay at least four days in the area. One thing to bare in mind when you are at the Hermitage , the altitude is 1,000 metres. You should always be prepared for the weather to turn cold or even snowy; even in summer.

For a basic days walking you need a good pair of boots , this may seem obvious but I have seen a woman in high heels walking up the Tasman valley.For the artist there is a lot of inspiration in the area, especially if you paint mountains or you want to try your hand at them. If you are the more adventurous then you can climb up to higher altitudes and do some painting from there . What ever you do ,always have your sketch book at the ready .

For every body else make sure you have sufficient film for your camera , I am sure you will regret it if you dont . If you are visiting New Zealand and your itinerary is flexible enough it might be worth considering being at Moutn Cook for a full moon . It is spectacular at night with the the moon light shining off the snowy peaks . It is an opportunity to take some award winning photo's


Lake Manapouri is about 12 kilometres south of Te Anau. As you would expect , Manapouri is set next to Lake Manapouri which is a very picturesque and tranquil with mountains as a back drop in every direction .

Lake Manapouri and the Monument

There are a number of private houses in Manapouri, some of which are holiday homes. Beside the lake there is the camp site, a hotel, a general store and a craft shop. The Lake itself is one of the deepest in New Zealand even though it does not have a very large surface area.

The geography of the area lends itself to the artist as there are a number of unusual features such as the Monument in the painting above . A large rock that thrusts out of the bush like a cenotaph. It is possible to climb to the top of the Monument but only recommended for those with climbing experience .

To venture across the Lake and on any excursion onto the lake you need to go to Pearl Harbour .This is a small picturesque harbour where you can catch the launch for the tour of Doubtful Sound. If you venture across to the opposite bank at Pearl Harbour you can take a number of walks in the bush .

There is a cabin that you can use but be warned the area is infested with sand flies so you will need a good supply of insect repellent.

There is good fishing in the lake and as previously mentioned you can take a guided tour to Doubtful Sound which takes in the power station as well . This is a day trip and well worth the journey and time. The boat ride around Doubtful sound takes in most of the sound giving you a glimpse of what it must have been like for those first explorers who arrived in this area . It is totally unspoiled, except for the quay and is very peaceful.


Queenstown is the action centre of South Island and New Zealand . If you want adrenaline this is the place to come . If you want something a bit more sedate then again Queenstown can cater for you.

The activities are in some cases world famous . The one that every body knows is bungy jumping . Queenstown was the first place to have a bungy jump which is run by A.J. Hackett . There is bungy jumping just outside Queenstown on the main road leading to Wanaka . The bungy jumping is done from abridge which you can walk onto and stand next to those who are risking life and limb 60 metres below . Other activities in Queenstown include Paragliding from the Skyline Cage on top of Ben Lomand , Jetboating down the Shotover river , Aerobatics , and in winter skiing either on the Remarkables or Cardrona ski fields .

The more sedate activities are wide and varied . You can take a cruise on the SS Earnslaw to the Mount Nicholas sheep station or in the evening around the lake and down the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu , gondola riding upto the Skyline cafe to get a majestic view of Lake Wakatipu and watch the Paragliders . There is the bowls club in the botanical gardens and of course there is the botanical gardens themselves that has a splendid rose Garden . Set in the rose Garden is a commemorative stone dedicated to Captain Scott .

Queenstown itself has a selection of shops to get your winter wear and also any provisions as well as that all important New Zealand souvenirs .

Lake Wakatipu seen from the Wakatipu Lodge bar

There are numerous places to eat and you will be very spoilt for choice if you wish to eat out. There are a number of bars , restaurants, cafes and tea shops. There is a wide selection of places to stay in Queenstown .Ranging from five star hotels to camp sites . The main Motorcamp site gets very packed and not for those who prefer it quiet . There is also the Wakatipu lodge which is highly recommended as it has a bar . There is also a back packers lodge , the limit would be what you can afford. If you want to go further afield there are a number of things that you can do in the area. Drive upto the top of the Remarkables , visit Arrowtown and see what New Zealand looked like during the gold rush years . There are a number of pleasant drives that you can take around the lake but dont expect the road to be smooth. Also you can go out to the Cardrona range .

All together the choice in Queenstown is almost limitless , you just need the budget and the time . If you really need to unwind you can always feed the swarms of ducks . For the Artist in Queenstown there is so much that should inspire you and there is so much material you will not be able to put your sketch book down . If you are painting out doors you can also expect an audience who will take an active interest in what you are doing .

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