Up at 6:00, got dressed and then waited around until about 6:45 to walk to Pepperberry for breakfast. Then Fiona, our driver, came with the van and we loaded luggage and gear into a trailer and the back of the van and left right when planned at 8:00.

Headed out over the plains of Canterbury, flat, crops, livestock. Sharron filled us in on history along with way. First stop was Geraldine where we shopped for snacks, cheese, got coffee, got ice cream (lemon grass ginger). We did make a few stops along the way for pictures. Ended up in Fairlie about Noon. Fairlie Bakehouse has phenomenal hand pies, hot, juicy, flakey.

Back in the van, next scheduled stop was Burkes Pass for pictures. Stopped elsewhere for pictures along the road. Then went to Lake Tekapo for pictures. Saw an Asian couple getting married out on the rocks by the lake. Groom set up a camera on tripod and took pix of the two of them.

We were supposed to stop at Lake Pukaki, but as we approached it, there was a full cloud bank that had descended into the valleys. Some of it was fog, some clouds. We could not see the lake. We drove thorough the clouds/fog for about 50 miles. Finally emerged above them as we neared Mt. Cook. So all got out and took pictures, of course.

Staying at Aoraki Court Motel, which is where I staying in 2012. Nice place. Got here around 4:00 or so. Van picked us up at 6:15 to go uphill to The Hermitage Hotel for a huge buffet dinner in their café.

As we went outside before going up to dinner, we remarked how many stars we could see since we’re out in the mountains and there is no light pollution. So, Donna, Jeff, Jonathon, and I got our gear and walked away from the motel up the hill a little and took pictures of the Milky Way. First time I think I’ve seen it. First time I’ve ever done star shots. Was great fun.

So, have a cold I think from the chill I got early in the trip. Taking some heavy Vitamin C and Manuka honey. Hope it will calm down.

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