10500 ft. high in the sky, flying over Lake Tekapo, the four big glaciers Murchinson, Tasman, Fox and Franz Joseph, around Aoraki-Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki – today I get my birthday present. We make a sightseeing flight across the glacier region of the Southern Alps. This experience is unique and cannot be described with words, so I prefer to let pictures speak.

All in all we are five passengers on this scenic flight. As nobody else voluntarily wants to sit in the co-pilots seat I may sit in the front row – yeah! We are so lucky as the weather is ideal! Some smaller cottonballs made of clouds hover on the lower mountain tops, farther above no wind, no clouds at all. Aoraki-Mount Cook seems to be within our grasp, everybody on the plane is deeply moved, no one says a word. Matt, our pilot, declares that this is the most gorgeous flight he has had for at least a month now.

You are planning a trip to New Zealand? Don’t miss this experience, to be booked for example at Air Safaris

Sadly enough our time in this beautiful part of the earth is over, we have to leave towards Christchurch. One last view back to the mountain tops covered in snow and we are already on hilly meadow ground again. On our way we pass a special kind of “Christmas Parade”. A lot of New Zealanders start into their Christmas holiday on the 24th of December. Again and again we see vehicles with boats on their trailers, one bigger than the other. But we also see kayaks, quads, bikes and any other sort of fun vehicles you might imagine.

The final 100 km to Christchurch lead through absolute flat farmland. It’s a boring route, any bridge or crossroads have to be judged as an alternation. The road goes on exactly straight, often high hedges prevent you to see to the far distance. The farer South you come in New Zealand the more you notice these hedgerows planted in an exact right angle or in precise parallel rows, pinewood, sometimes cottonwood. Around vineyards or other fruit growings, also as an alternative for stone walls to border meadows. We suppose these hedges shall protect from the wind, or to screen farm houses from view. The buildings often appear like tree-covered islands in the apart from that empty grasslands.

Being on the road the last two days we noticed even more lawn mowers than before. Obviously every lawn has to be cut for Christmas to look good. Now the school holidays have already begun so dad can instruct the kid how to drive the big mower, mum proudly standing beside them. This is not a joke – we see this happen more than once! There’s at least one lawn mower shop in any town we pass through. Not just these small ones we know from home but real giant mowing trucks. Well, they have got quite a lot of lawn areas here that need to be cultivated.

SH1 leads around Christchurch passing the airport and directly to Woodend Beach. Wendy and Mike, our landlords, changed their plans at short notice to spend Christmas with their daughter in Nelson so we are on our own on the lot. Instead of potato salad and sausages this Christmas Eve we have a two course dinner at the “Three Cows” in Kaiapoi, very recommendable (funny menu card!). The charming young waitress wears a plush moose on her head as if it was absolutely normal to do so. I always understood “starters” as an appetizer but the soup itself is satiable. Who in New Zealand really has “starters” and “main course” in one meal has to be blessed with a good appetite.

After this ample menu we make an after-dinner walk to the beach. There are information boards at the car park telling you what to to in case of a tsunami. We hope there is no tsunami now and stump up the dunes trough the sand. Two Buddhistic monchs pass by  joyfully wishing us a merry Christmas. Gernot states “On Christmas Eve I have never seen a Buddhistic monch before!” It is not as if we had some of them as guests for the rest of the year!

Tour guide

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