Looking southwest from Paraparaumu Beach




Karapiro to Picton

Picton to Woodend


Christchurch to Ashburton

Ashburton to Fairlie

Fairlie to Awamoko

Awamoko to Middlemarch

Middlemarch to Clyde

Clyde to Invercargill

Invercargill to Bluff

Bluff to Te Anau

Te Anau to Arrowtown

Arrowtown to Wanaka (Twice)

Wanaka to MacKenzie Country

MacKenzie Country and Twizel

Twizel to Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier to Hokitika

Hokitika to Reefton via Karamea

Reefton to Twizel

Twizel to Takaka

Takaka to Picton

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Tekapo doggood shephardnative tussock grasstekapofrom mount johnmt cook from pukakiDOC visitor centre windowmt cook from visitor centre

MacKenzie Country - 8/03/2012 to 11/03/2012

Thursday morning dawned cold and misty - Tamati Coffey assured us the weather would be fine in the afternoon so we went to Lake Tekapo, a stunning place that should best be viewed on a sunny day to really appreciate its beauty. We arrived when it was slightly overcast and filled in time dumping waste, as usual the result of having a lot of fruit and muesli recently. We ignored the overcast weather and visited the famous Mackenzie Dog Monument and the Good Shepherd Church. It is hard to get a good photo when tourist buses arrive constantly with foreigners who have no interest in a bronze dog or respect for a western church.

The bronze dog is a memorial to hard working collie dogs that muster the mountainous countryside. It is quite often mistaken as being James Mckenzie’s dog ‘Friday’. James Mckenzie was a sheep stealer over 200 years ago who brought sheep through the mountain pass. Supposedly the area is named after him even though he is a Mc and the county is a Mac. So like Australia with their Ned Kelly, NZ worships criminals and names provinces after them. Perhaps the Otago Rugby Union should call their new stadium the 'David Bain Centre'; that may draw more attention and dollars.

Still not believing the cloud was going to clear we went up Mt John to the observatory and café for a coffee review. However once we came back down to Tekapo, the cloud cleared, the sun came out, the temperature rose and I had forgotten to do the geocache up on Mt John when we were there. So off we went again to see the dog, the church, the foreshore and climbed back up to the top of Mt John. We were rewarded for perseverance with spectacular views of Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo and beyond. The worst view is the ground that nothing grows on, it is barren, stony and rabbit infested. The only thing that grows is Matagouri.

The views of Mt Cook remained all the way back to Lake Pupkaki, into the evening and were there again the next morning. So off we went again to Mt Cook to get a photo, up close in fine weather. This time we were able to go to the Terminal Lake of the Tasman Glacier and see great icebergs that had broken Tasman Glacier terminal lakeaway from the glacier floating in the lake. The glacier looks ugly because it is covered in shingle, but apparently it goes 200 to 600 metres below the surface. If you go to the Mt Cook village, do pop into the Old Mountaineers Café. For years the area has been monopolized by the Hermitage (once THC) and DOC. A couple had a 10 year battle to start up the café in opposition and finally won in 2007. They have done everything possible to make it fit with the environment and existing buildings. Inside has lots of photos of climbers and old equipment. The service is efficient and apparently the coffee was okay. The owners have published a book about their ordeal called “Matagouri and Other Pricks”. For North Islanders who don’t know what Matagouri is, it is like gorse but has much bigger thorns.

On returning from Mt Cook we headed off to Lake Ruataniwha to meet our South Island Rowing (SRI) counterparts for the South Island Secondary School Champs rowing regatta. It didn’t take long to realize SIR is quite a bit different than KRI (Karapiro Rowing). The people are very friendly and there's no pretentious hierarchy here;in fact they all share a backpacker-type lodge catering for eighty people, very NZMCA like. The boat park is so relaxed that it make Karapiro seem like a military camp. However they haven’t had their own boat number system before and as I am the only experienced person I am now in charge, just me and a few kids to fetch & carry. They have built me a special hut, no bad weather protection, no seats, no communication, in the middle of the paddock, but it does have resident geckos and spiders.

Saturday morning rowing life returns and we are back to 6.00am starts. Because everybody comes from out of town to Ruataniwha regattas they keep the cost to competitors down by only having weekend regattas (except Maadi). Great for working parents, but not us as to fit all of the races in they carried on rowing until 8.00pm (1/2 hour before sunset). It was a long day, especially with my adolescent helpers, but the rest of the SRI team and competitors were very pleasant and relaxed. We have now been accepted into their officials group which involves free meals, accommodation and social evenings. The right team won the South Island big 8’s, Marlborough Boys and the right team won the North Island big 8’s, Westlake Boys. It is going to be a good battle at Maadi, my brothers old school verses his son’s.

We both got some SRI experience in, Roger learned how cold it gets here and the Miss Fussy PantsSRI team valued our opinion and are redesigning the boat numbers hut to accommodate Miss Fussy-Pants. However I can’t see the finish line nor hear the commentary, but that’s not a problem either as they have been sending 'mature' trainees to learn the ropes so I can have some breaks at Maadi.

After the regatta on Sunday we headed straight to the Salmon farm with the private school parents. We bought a single fillet of high country, ice water bred salmon, the other lot bought several whole fish. They probably didn’t park up at Lake Ohau and cook it in their bus either. Anyway the salmon was nice, apparently it has less fat and more omega3 because of the water conditions.

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DOC window on Mt CookVisitor Centre Window on Mt Cook
Mt Cook approachApproaching Mt Cook
Mt cook from Lake PukakiWhen we woke up at Lake Pukaki
tekapo from Mt JohnOverlooking Tekapo from Mt John
Native tussockNative Tussock Grasses, Tekapo
church tekapoMuch photographed church, Tekapo
Dog tekapoRecognising the role of dogs Tekapo