The picture on the left is the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps in the background. The Canterbury Plains is a very important area for raising crops as well as sheep. New Zealand is the world's leading supplier of wool with a sheep population of well into the millions.
We stopped for morning tea in Geraldine where we had the most delicious scones we had ever tasted. There were several coaches that had arrived before us so it was interesting to see the driver parallel park the coach on the left side of the road. And I have a hard time even parallel parking my car back home! Temperatures were quite warm in Geraldine, reminding us that, after all, it was summer.
Continuing westward, our next stop was at Lake Tekapo. New Zealand has a multitude of lakes which were created because of the need for electrical power. Although the interior of the South Island of New Zealand reminds one of the desert areas of the United States due to its lack of trees and sparse population, there are several major hydroelectric power plants in this area. All of the little towns along our route had very low populations compared even to rural areas in the United States.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is located on the shores of Lake Tekapo. This church is very interesting because of its location as well as its small size. The church is a working church which serves the people of the area.
We turned north off the main road at Lake Pukaki to see Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain at Mount Cook, so I didn't get any good pictures. In New Zealand, the higher the elevation, the greater the chance of rain due to the winds blowing in from the Tasman Sea to the west. In fact, a good friend reported that it seemed to rain constantly in New Zealand. We had been told before we left that we would be able to schedule a scenic plane or helicopter flight, but all we had time for was a light lunch.
After leaving Mount Cook, we traveled through the Lindis Pass, stopping for afternoon tea. We had the opportunity to visit a fruit stand in Cromwell, which had delicious fruit, including kiwifruit.
We were on the coach for ten hours that day. After being on a coach another ten hours the next day for our Milford Sound tour, and learning that we would return along the exact route on December 26, meaning another ten hours on a coach, we decided to fly back to Christchurch (a 45-minute flight) and enjoy an extra day in Queenstown. And on that 45-minute flight, we were served a snack of fruit, cheese, crackers, and something to drink. Quite a difference from the coke and peanuts we expect on short flights at home.
The picture below of the Southern Alps was taken from the plane. We noticed that Mount Cook was still surrounded by clouds so the weather probably wasn't any better than the day we visited there.