We were nauseous and distraught before we ever had a chance to glimpse the famous ‘rock flour’ water. The day before we arrived in Lake Tekpao, two young boys had lost their lives in the cold, neon, otherworldly blue we had been so excited to see. Their day on the water had started sunny and cloudless, but the weather quickly changed, as we had previously learned it so often does in New Zealand, and their kayak trip ended in the worst imaginable way possible.
The tiny city of Lake Tekapo is blink-sized on a map. The people comprising the roughly 370 year-round population are very close knit, and this tragedy could be seen on the face of every resident. The city is situated on the southern tip of the lake. Every business overlooks the water, and, consequently, oversees what ever transpires on the water. We never brought it up, but in every interaction it was brought up. Another difficult testament to the utmost care that must be taken when exploring this beautiful, dangerous, dreamlike place.
Lake Tekapo is best known for two things: clear skies and The Church of the Good Sheperd. Like most tourists, we came to The Church to take photos. Unlike most tourists, we were stopped in our tracks; blinking back tears and forced to contemplate the fragility of life versus the seemingly senseless destruction of nature.
We spent one, frozen, confused night at Lake Tekapo. We wanted to see the stars but could not coax ourselves out of our sleeping bags to do so. Our minds were muddied, and no matter how clear the sky, we could not have seen the billion twinkling lights. We hope to go back one warm day, and create a different memory.