Lupins, Swamps and the Best Pies in New Zealand


200 Days on the Road

Wake up and smell the lupins, people! We’re on our last morning in Lake Tekapo. Although we have avoided being another tourist taking photos of those famous lupin flowers by doing much more awesome stuff in Tekapo, like bathing in hot springs, stargazing and flying over the Southern Alps, our time has come to join the tourist hoards at the Church of the Good Shepard and take some photos of some lupins.

We unplug the campervan and hit the road once again. This time, it’s destination Fairlie. Our mission is to find some fun stuff to do along the way.

The Church of the Good Shepherd

On the way out of Lake Tekapo, we turn toward the lakefront to go see one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand, the Church of the Good Shepherd. We park up and… TOURISTS! As backpackers, for some reason we have a bit of a stigma against the sight of tourists. We are known for discovering hidden gems, going off the beaten track, paving the way and setting the trends for tourists to pick up on later. Of course, our path always crosses with the main tourist trail on a few occasions.

We sit there in our van outside of the Church of the Good Shepherd, watching two tour buses arrive every 10 minutes. In between that, five rental cars would come and go, come and go. It’s a bit daunting. We don’t know if we even want to get out of the van to take photos.

New Zealand has spoiled us silly

But, hang on a minute. Are we being totally bitchy for no freakin’ reason? We act like we’re being mobbed here, but there are still car parking spaces left in this tiny car park. We are not bumping shoulders with other people. That’s when we realise that we have been totally spoiled in New Zealand. Our perception of “busy” has totally changed now that we have had hiking tracks to ourselves, endless car parking possibilities, and no one photo bombing our shots. Thinking back to our homes in Europe, there were more people in the queue at the post office, or if you’re from the US, more people at the DMV than what there is at the Church of the Good Shepard right now. We just need to get out there!

Cheating photos

Indeed, the church is a pretty little building that is somehow squeezing a whole school inside right now singing their little hearts out. We walk around the building, taking multiple shots to make a composite later that will miraculously delete the photo bombers. The best shots we find are down by the lupins, a pretty flower that comes in different shades of purple, purple and white, yellow and pink. They are beautiful, but in reality, they are an introduced species to New Zealand that have been discovered to be a pest. They out-compete with native plants and choke nesting habitats for birds. Damn those killer lupins!

Loopy about lupins

Maybe if everyone pulled a lupin out of the ground after they had taken a photo of it, they wouldn’t be a problem anymore? Since taking photos doesn’t hurt, we take our snaps, take a photo of a dog monument that is there for tourists to be wowed by but no one really gives a sh*t about it. (If they had real dogs here, that would be a different story). Then we are leaving Lake Tekapo. It’s been a pleasure – it really has! But the night’s sky, relaxing hot pools, and stunning scenery might stick in our minds more than the lupins.


Just 30 minutes away in the little town of Fairlie, which also has a lake! Wahoo! We are off the beaten track once again, heading down a gravel road to Lake Opuha. According to a MacKenzie District guide, there is a walk around the lake that we can’t wait to check out. We know very little about it. It’s a new adventure!

We get out of the van to the sight and sound of different birds. Birds of prey hover in the sky, little yellow birds perch on signs, ducks quack on the lake… So far so good! The MacKenzie District guide says that we can follow a 4×4 track around the lake, so we find it and set off. Two minutes into our walk, we are met with a huge stinky swamp of farming refuse covering the entire 4×4 track… Ok, this is not the sort of hike we had in mind. The MacKenzie guide must have meant: “people have been known to put one foot in front of the other in this area, but it is not necessarily a walk”. Anyway, we find this so hilarious, we take a photo to see if we can set a trend here (#ThatFairlieSwamp) and head back to the van. Come on, Fairlie, we know you have something awesome hidden up your sleeve!

Fairlie Bakehouse: Our last hope

When we told some of the locals in Lake Tekapo that we were going to their neighbours in Fairlie, they raved and raved about the Fairlie Bakehouse.

“You must go to the Fairlie Bakehouse!” the villagers would cry. So we go to check this place out.

While walking through the small town centre of Fairlie, we are surprised to see that this farming town is actually full of cute-as-hell boutiques! From the outside, the Fairlie Bakehouse looks like your average bakery in New Zealand, but the way and the amount of people walking in on a mission for pies and quickly striding, knowing exactly what they want, and striding back out again holding the goods, tells us that this place is a local’s favourite.

Fairlie Bakehouse: Our saviour!

As we’re grabbing ourselves a baked cheesecake, we get talking to the owner, Franz, he tells us that he goes through four tonnes of pork belly for his pork belly pies per month! Holy sh*t! We have to try a pork belly and apple pie with the crackling on top.

All memories of walking into a swamp leave our minds as we bite into this comforting pie with the perfect mix of sweet and savoury. (Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. That swamp was too hilarious to leave our minds. But the point is, this is a freakin’ delicious pie).

Fairlie has quickly redeemed itself and more so when we plug into the power site at the Fairlie Holiday Park, surrounded by trees and birds constantly singing. We end the evening watching the fantails dancing outside of our campervan window.

Join us tomorrow, where we hope to get a true Fairlie farming experience at Morelea Farm!

Having a classic Kiwi pie (and cheesecake) at the Fairlie Bakehouse

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See you tomorrow!


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