Earth and Sky on Mount John

Mount John rises steeply from the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. The strong and the fit can make their way up a steep path to reach the windswept, rocky summit. The less energetic can drive up a smooth, curving, tar-sealed road.

The View from Mount John's Astro Cafe
The View from Mount John’s Astro Cafe

From up on Mount John the view is breathtaking. It’s a landscape solely of earth and sky. It is an earth of shadows, light, folds, seams, sharply contrasting colours, rivers, lakes, stands of trees, rocky outcrops, hills, cliffs and mountains. There are ribbons of road, threads of power lines and the thin filigree of a ski lift. The sky is a light, clear, infinite blue dome hung with great, thick luminous clouds and there’s something about it that reduces you to silent, motionless specks.

There is more to Mount John than the view however.

Firstly it is the site of the University of Canterbury’s Observatory and home to a team of astronomers who man the collection of telescopes which keep constant watch over our skies. Star of the fleet, so to speak, is MOA, a machine of unbelievable power and size. Every night they click away relaying the state of the firmament. Mount John Observatory offers fascinating tours – called Earth and Sky which explain the work of astronomers, the workings of the telescopes and best of all allow a look, through a telescope, at the earth and the sky. Fascinating by day, magical by night!

Secondly, Mount John boasts, according to Lonely Planet, the best place on the planet- the Astro Cafe. The food here, and the coffee too, are excellent, but really, it’s mostly a question of location, location, location!

Hosts of daffodils crowd into Pleasant Valley

I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Just outside the quaint South Canterbury town of Geraldine, New Zealand, you’ll find Pleasant Valley Daffodils. Had he wandered through Pleasant Valley’s paddocks of perfect blooms, Wordsworth would have been inspired to write an epic, not just a mere sonnet.

Pleasant valley Daffodils
Pleasant valley Daffodils

Here, at Pleasant Valley Daffodils, not just a crowd, but crowds and crowds and not just a host but hosts and hosts of daffodils spread across the paddocks, like a thick tapestry, in every possible shade of yellow, from the bright colour of the summer sun to the pale hue of the winter moon.

If you’re a connoisseur, then this is the place to find rare and special blooms for your collection, including the tiny and delicate original daffodil species. If you’re after a low maintenance show then there are hundreds of hardy specimens that will happily look after themselves for most of the year and still turn up trumps every spring. Or if, like Wordsworth, you just want “to wander, lonely as a cloud” surrounded by this lovely symbol of spring, then Pleasant Valley Daffodils at 66 Brophy’s Road. Geraldine is definitely the place to do it.