With the greatest of intention I set off up North again to do some astrophotography and to capture Mt Cook / Aoraki in all its glory. That was the plan anyway.
I left Wānaka and was shortly into glorious sunshine, all was warm & good. Over the Lindis Pass and while there was some snow about, but it was all still looking good.
Approaching Omarama I noticed some fog in the distance and pulled over to get some zoom snaps, being fairly excited at having my zoom lens back an after a month away for repairs (pic 1 below). Little did I know I was about to enter that fog and would not get out of until I was heading back home, at about the same point on the road 3 days later… with my tail between my legs!
That fog was a sign of a Hoar Frost which whilst rather pretty, a real Winter Wonderland, it is also rather cold! On one night staying in a free camp near Twizel (pronounced Twy-zel. Our American friends say it rather cutely like the ‘i’ in ‘twist’ – which sounds like somewhere Smurfs would live) it hit -4 deg C / 24 deg F overnight. Cold man, cold – especially staying in an uninsulated van!
On the morning after (pic 2) the van started first time (to my surprise) and after 20 minutes of it idling it, to warm up and defrost the windscreen, I left the campground. I trundled along slowly through this wonderful wintery scene, in dense fog, up a rise and onto a gravel road that ran along beside the canal.
The scene was so lovely that I stopped the van to take some pictures (pics 3 & 4) and, of course, left the van running since it was so cold. After a few minutes I heard the van stop and thought nothing of it as it had been running for 1/2 hour. When I came back to it… it would not start, a flat battery!
‘Oh sh*t!’ I thought. This was not a good place to break down, in the middle of nowhere, on a gravel road, no traffic, in dense fog and it had ‘warmed’ up to -2 deg C (pic 5).
Eventually I was able to, single-handedly, push the van back down the road to the incline and reverse roll start it from there.
As I tried to find places to photograph that day (which was hopeless due to the dense fog) I kept parking on hills so I could roll start it. Eventually I went to start it by ignition and the same thing happened again. Luckily I was on a slight hill and able to roll start it from there.
At that point, 3 days in dense fog, frozen to bits, with a van that wouldn’t start – I decided to go home!