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It is still autumn, just, but the first winter snow has transformed the Gondola summit.  It became a magical fairyland as the sun shone following a day of blizzards.  For me, there are no better views near Christchurch – the snow covered Alps with the quake-sculptured Castle Rock dominating the foreground.  The shattered Castle Rock landmark displays striking new colours.

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High points encompassing LytteltonHarbour were graced generously in white while views north over the sweep of PegasusBay to the Kaikoura mountains were stunning.  Sheep wandered incongruously through snow and tussock grass.  While taking it all in I spotted a guy appearing over the brim.  With hat, smoking pipe and stout walking pole, he looked the archetypal Swiss alpine hiker.  He climbed the steps of the top station and enjoyed a coffee and scrumptious muffin in the Red Rock Café before setting off again, disappearing mysteriously from whence he first appeared.

Such days convince the value of the GondolaAnnualPass when one can make an impromptu decision to enjoy an ideal seasonal condition.  Taking in the views and stopping for a coffee is a half-day pleasantly spent.

First snow 2013 RC (1024x622)