We had a picnic with a front row seat viewing the clouds recede from the mountains and expose the many glaciers. This area is very popular for "Trampers". You can almost drive to the base of the glaciers and lakes. A very impressive day to say the least.
We then made our way towards Queenstown, a 5 hr drive from Tekapo. Even though the elevation across the plains was maybe 2000 ft, I would describe is as high country plains. Mostly flat driving but a few times through narrow valleys, but mostly wide open space surrounded by mountain ranges. Just before reaching Queenstown we drove thru the Gibbston Valley, known for where bungy jumping oringinated and its many wineries. A narrow river gorge with a winding road and high mountains above.
Left our holiday park campground around 11, got coffee to go, and looked at the famous church lakeside. While getting coffee we talked to a group of motorcycle riders who had just come from Mt. Cook, tallest mountain in NZ. And first mountain Sir Edmund Hillary climbed. We were not going to go to Cook, but today the skies cleared up a lot and they said the drive was beautiful. One said he's been driving the 40 minute road for 10 yrs and today was one of the best. So we decided to go for it. It took us about 2 ½ hrs out of our way. Part of the reason was it was so special was Lake Pukaki. It is a huge aquamarine lake created by a dam. Again, like Tekapo, we were awestruck when we crested a hill and saw it for the first time. I should say the drive from Tekapo to the turn off to Mt. Cook was a mostly flat valley surrounded by mountain ranges which had a new dusting of snow from all the rain the day before. We really lucked out on the timing. If we had tried this yesterday we wouldn’t have gone or seen any of this. The photos tell the story.