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Several telephone calls revealed that Lake Tekapo was a very popular place and that I had found us accommodation in Timaru instead where we have already booked for Monday night.

The day was perfect, the skies clear and blue, not a cloud in sight, which was extremely fortunate as we were driving to Aoraki/Mount Cook.

At Twizel we stopped for perishables and moved on to Lake Pukaki for an impressive view of Aoraki and the Southern Alps across the stunning turquoise blue lake. The sight of the beautiful snow-capped mountains was exquisite and breakthtaking and I was quite emotional. It really was an ideal picture of scenic beauty.

When we reached Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, some 55 kilometres away from our first viewpoint, we parked at the village and stared at the scenery of Aoraki, Mount Sefton, The Footstool and many others, then enjoyed a picnic at the same spot. After a wander around the visitor centre and us losing each other to then be reunited some time later, we took a walk to Kea Point through alpine flora. Lupins were ever present and as always attracted my attention. As we approached the mountains we heard a noise which we believed to be water running over rocks but we couldn't identify the source by sight.

On reaching Kea Point, which looks across to Mount Sefton, Aoraki, the Mueller glacier, Mueller moraine and other surrounding mountains, I was dumbfounded. After taking tens of pictures I sat down and enjoyed the scenery. We remained seated and silent for 45 minutes during which time we were so fortunate to witness half a dozen ice falls from Mount Sefton. The sun was burning hot on the snow and ice and from our height at 800 metres above sea level we could see melting snow at the summit. Most of the ice falls we saw were reasonably small but enough for us to visually locate them from 1 kilometre away. The noise that accompanied the falls was tremendous, somewhat like thunder claps. The noise preceded the fall, you could tell that ice was cracking and breaking away somewhere and then you would see some ice melt pouring down a crevice. The final ice fall we witnessed before returning to the car was much larger by comparison. As we looked at the mountain a whole section broke away from the main section and slowly fell down the mountain accelerating as it fell, a stream of ice meting to the glacier botton below. It was very loud and a pleasure to watch, reminding us how hot the day had been. Ian happened to be recording at the time and captured the whole thing on film!

Lake Takapo was our next stop on the way to Timaru. The lake was also a beautiful rich turquiose colour, rich in minerals and a result of the glacier melt. It is a perfect setting for an historic church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, whose eastern window overlooks the lake and the Southern Alps.

We arrived in Timaru at teatime, unpacked our gear and relaxed in our oversized apartment with ensuite, kitchen and living area. It's much like a caravan but with more space. Dinner was enjoyed in town and we watched Evolution on the television before retiring.

We drove 365 kilometres from Otematata to Timaru.

As I set the alarm clock for the morning I received a text message from some friends back home informing me that they are now the proud parents of a new arrival, Jack, who was born on 27 December 2002 weighing just 5lbs 15ozs. Many congratulations guys!