After visiting Auckland and Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, the third stop of our big New Zealand trip was Lake Tekapo: it’s one of the most magical mountain lakes in the New Zealand Alps. The place is also well known for its nice little chapel called the Church of the Good Shepherd.
During our stay in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula (see previous location) a lot of people told us to visit Lake Tekapo, as it is said to be magical and having the purest air in New Zealand. At the beginning of our trip, we didn’t plan to go towards the inner mountains at this place, but wanted to follow the coast to the south. But after all we heard about this mountain lake, we decided to change our road and take a tour to the mountains, to discover the New Zealand Alps. And we didn’t regret it!
When leaving the coast towards Lake Tekapo, you can slowly notice how the landscape is changing, from fields and plains to climbing roads. After the little town of Geraldine, we could see the mountains and the snow coming closer. Up to the Burkess Pass we definitively left the coastal plains to enter a different space. And after a while, we suddenly discovered Lake Tekapo and it’s amazing deep blue color, surrounded by snowy mountains. The temperature was really low, but the sun was there, giving the place these amazing colors and contrast. Breathing in pure fresh air while walking along a beautiful lake, that’s something magical! And for a lomographer, having this soft winter mountain light with beautiful contrasts of blue and white…
But for a lomographer, there’s also another point of interest at this lake: the Church of the Good Shepherd, known as the most photographed of New Zealand buildings. Indeed, this simple and small stone church (which was built in 1935 to commemorate the first settlement of Pakeha’s – that means British settlers – in this area during the 2nd half of the XIX century) is located at the most perfect place on the lake. It’s simplicity in such a stunning landscape has a real visual power that seduces everyone who wants to take a picture of it. In a way, it’s not easy to take a picture of the church as the building is always surrounded by tourists who want to shoot it, and I had to wait ’til the late afternoon to finally get a picture of the church and the lake. The church is also known for having the most amazing view through a large window opening on the lake. For sure, the spirituality and beliefs of any kind can only feel very inspired by a sacred place like this.
And for the name of the church, the “Good Shepherd” can of course have a lot of religious meanings, but it’s also because the first settlers where shepherds, as it was the only thing they could do in this area. And to show the importance of this activity, just beside the church is a statue that was built in homage to the most important companion of these first shepherd settlers: a sheepdog.
When leaving the place and following the road down to the coast and south again, you’ll see other lakes almost as beautiful as Lake Tekapo, like Lake Pukaki or Lake Benmore, they’re worth a visit too.
NZ Travel story to be continued…. ;)