Step Into Pictures – New Zealand Mountain Road

June 14, 2013

. . . A New Perspective on Relationships
Number 9

What might you talk about with someone if you were walking down a road leading into the beautiful New Zealand Alps, with mostly treeless valley and snow-capped mountains in the distance?


Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.


Click on picture to see enlarged view
New Zealand Mountain Road
When you practice driving on the “wrong” side of the road on a lonely mountain road in New Zealand’s South Island, you don’t need to worry so much about oncoming traffic coming in your lane.

Step into this picture now, or continue reading to learn more about it . . .

I had a difficult time writing about this picture because I wanted to accurately identify the place where I stood in the middle of the road in 2006, taking what seemed to me to be a perfect mountain-road picture. I remembered that it was between Christ Church and Queenstown in New Zealand. Nearby was a stone church overlooking a lake and in front of the church was the statue of a dog.

Searching for a lake, a church, and a statue

Since I didn’t remember the name of the lake near where this road headed into the New Zealand Alps, I first tried Google Earth. There I found three roughly parallel lakes running north-south. When I couldn’t identify the lake, locate the church, nor see the dog’s statue, I decided the smartest thing was to wait until my husband got home.

Bob remembered the lake was called something like “Toledo,” and when we checked Google, we saw that there was a “Lake Tekapo.” A little search found the now world famous “Church of the Good Shepherd” carved by early pioneers from the rock terrain at the end of the lake. It commands an unsurpassed view of the lake and mountains from its picture window.

Fortunately, Bob was the designated driver, for it takes a bit of practice driving on the ”wrong” side of the road. However, when we got onto this dirt road, with no other traffic, he let me try it.  I naturally wanted to keep to the right, as I have done for more than half a century. So I could understand why the rental agency didn’t completely trust drivers like me to stay left: they taped a prominent yellow “Keep Left” arrow on the dashboard!

Sheep thief

As I read more — thanks to Google, one can discover information far beyond one’s original search — I discovered that in 1855 “James Mackenzie, a Scottish shepherd turned sheep stealer, discovered the basin that now bears his name when he, with the help of his dog Friday, drove flocks of sheep inland to avoid being discovered.”

Authorities were finally able to capture Mackenzie, but had a hard time taking control of the sheep due to his highly intelligent dog. It is alleged Friday continued to drive the sheep without his master’s control until finally being disabled by the authorities.

Since we saw several demonstrations of the skills of these dogs, I can believe a dedicated dog could avoid the authorities for a good long time if he put his mind to it.

Smart dogs, dumb sheep

Today New Zealand is home to 3 million people and 60 million sheep, so sheep dogs are obviously essential! [See Statistics of New Zealand] In fact, local farmers were  so grateful for their dogs that a bronze memorial to working collie dogs of Mackenzie Country was commissioned in 1968 and now stands on the shores of Lake Tekapo near the church.

I can’t resist ending this story with an experience we had when driving near Bluff, the southernmost end of the country. We saw a flock of sheep being driven down the middle of the road from one field to another (the practice allows a field to lie fallow and regrow before sheep are returned to it). Behind the sheep were several barking dogs — inside cages in a pickup! Valuable dogs didn’t need to get winded running after dumb sheep.

Plan a conversation walking down a dirt road

If you could invite someone to join you on this road, what do you think you would talk about? How could the open road influence your choice of topics?

Incidentally, I have used this picture as a gift I sometimes give to complement my book,  Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life. On the picture I have the question, “Do I know where I am going?”


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2 thoughts on “Step Into Pictures – New Zealand Mountain Road

  1. From what we saw, lots of New Zealand looks empty of people or habitation. But there are loads of sheep! And if you want good lamb, that’s the place to go. They know how to fix it!


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