Ōtautahi! (Christchurch in Maori)
We LOVED the tramway dinner that we enjoyed last night during the tour of Christchurch as we learned about the city and the energy of exploration within it's communities.
Christchurch lies within the province of Canterbury and is surrounded by nature, both within the active city and in the rugged landscapes just beyond the city center. The spirit of the Canterbury-Christchurch region is one of exploration, and we can see why. As far as the eye can see is a diverse array of landscapes, coastlines, and spectacular mountains with an equally plentiful array of activities available.
Today, we made our way from Christchurch to the Waipara Valley, the home of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling, a short drive back north along the coast. We arrive at the Greystone Winery where we enjoy a tour, tasting and lunch (with plenty of the above mentioned wines to enjoy with the meal!
With so much left to do in the afternnoon we leave Greystone directly after lunch because we still have Church of the Good Shepherd, Mackenzie Country Basin and Stargazing at Mount John Observatory! We can't decide which of these activities is more exciting to the group, but the stargazing will definitely be the cherry on top!
Okay, The Church of Good Shepherd first, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK, you will encounter (as we did) an amazing view, although our view was an afternoon partly sunny day, you can see this beautiful tiny church in all it's glory on their website. The church was built and opened in 1935 as the only place to worship in Lake Tekapo and continues as a place of worship for the local community. The Church was built to incorporate the rugged terrain and left it undisturbed, you can find the matagouri bushes and large rocks surrounding the church everywhere. The materials (mostly stones) used for the construction of the church are from within a five miles radius of the site, and laid out in their natural condition. The original roof was of wooden shingles, but had to be replaced with the present slates in 1957. But the best par of this experience we had during our visit was feeling the energy of this area, and its surrounding beauty. The wind, the smell of the lake, the foliage, the cool stones, and the small humble church, all combined to leave us with full hearts.
We reluctantly leave this area to find Mackenzie Country Basin, this 60 mile long, 25 mile wide basin is named after a sheep thief who settled here in this remote and barren land during the mid-1800's James MacKenzie, apparently he gathered his flocks and led them to this area where he made a business out of the wool. The entire region that Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook National Park, along with many other natural attractions sit within MacKenzie Country. Again, I know it's a broken record at this point but the views all around us are AMAZING!
What a great way to finish a great day, we find ourselves relaxing under the stars in the beauty of the natural world here in MacKenzie Country. We can't tell you how many planets, stars or shooting stars, for that matter, that we counted, there are too many to mention. All I can say is that we were flooded with awe, amazement and love for the universe. Sleep well travelers, I know that you will after this day!