Day 10 of our Kiwi adventures lead us to Lake Tekapo located dead center of the South Island. I didn't want to admit it, but this was my most anticipated stop of the trip. In June of 2012, Tekapo was named the world's largest International Dark Sky Reserve - meaning it was free from any light pollution, and one of the best spots on the planet to gaze out into the cosmos. While en route, we came across an enormous golden field of canola flowers. The day was already off to a good start.
We arrived mid afternoon and found our lodging right on the banks of the water. A morning storm was trailing off to the East and the clear skies started to peak through the gray clouds. We both stood on the shore in awe of this icy lagoon that was bluer than we could comprehend. I stuck my hand in the frigid lake thinking that this "perfect" water might somehow feel different.
After a few glasses of wine on the shore, we walked over to one of the few options in town for dinner. The sun was starting to set and the moon was beginning to ascend. Our restaurant had panoramic windows of the landscape and the Church of the Good Shepard at it's base. At one point, the moon looked so perfect, I excused myself form the table and ran across the field in front of the restaurant (and everyone else dining out) to capture the moment.
We wrapped up dinner and strolled over to the local pub for some post supper drinks and ended up meeting a friendly local (James). After several rounds of Speight's Ale and a streaker running through the bar, we headed back to the lodge. On the walk back, James had pointed out that the street lights in Tekapo were much dimmer than any other street lights in NZ, purposely to keep the ambiance to a minimum and the stargazing to a maximum. It was at that point that I realized the full moon that I was once so excited to see creeping up on the horizon had lit up the entire town taking the renowned darkness out of the sky. I wouldn't be able to see the thousands of stars that I was so anxious to shoot. A small wave of disappointment hit me as I knew this once in a lifetime opportunity was lost.
I walked Beth back to the lodge, and grabbed all of my gear. It was a little after midnight at this point, but for me the night was just beginning. Remembering where I was, and how long I waited for this very night, I set out to make the most of what I had to work with.
I ended up shooting 30+ second exposures of the moon lit landscape for nearly 3 hours. Some of the brightest stars in the sky made themselves known and kept from being completely engulfed by the luminosity. Looking back at it now, it was still my favorite shoot of the trip. For those 3 hours, I felt an exceptional amount of solitary peace. Just me, my camera, and the night.