Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogcard From Wanaka, New Zealand (part one)

I knew Wanaka was going to be good, but not as wonderful and spectacular as it turned out to be.


Arriving in Wanaka it was dark, no moon, though a half moon rose later, but very clear stars and constellations. I had driven the journey from Christchurch to Wanaka in a surprising 4.5 hours, expecting it to be 6. The first hour was was miles of straight road through flat farm country, just like in much of the USA, where you seen the mountains in the distance but never seem to get closer to them.


At last the sat nav directed me to a country road turn off and I was getting a little hungry. It seems the road was not going to take me to civilisation, though. I did arrive in a quaint town called Geraldine where a country store was still open. They served superb seafood sandwiches, which I have since discovered was a rarity as New Zealanders are not generally seafood eaters but either lamb eaters or vegetarians. A lot of vegetarians in new Zealand, I have since discovered.


Leaving Geraldine the road was extremely rural though I could not see the scenery, but the road climbed and fell sharply as well as being full of tight turns. I must have been driving over mountains. For almost 200 miles I passed only 4 cars coming the opposite direction so I took a chance and sustained 100 mph speeds with a determination to arrive in Wanaka well before midnight. I have not driven like that for years.


Was a bit of fun. My rented car is a Ford Focus and I was clearly surprised what a kick and accelerating boost the car has. I had ordered the car with Sat Nav and Christchurch Hertz depot told me I was the first person ever to ask for a sat nav with a rental and they had to have one flown in from London. I think Hertz, Christchurch only have a fleet of 12 Hertz cars.


Arriving at Wanaka I was delighted to find that my rented motel room was quaint, just like Ivy had described. These are lovely airy, bright and well kept apartments. Ivy had been in put on the heater and left a note. She had finished work early at the cinema next to the motel and had gone home to sleep. I was ready for a sleep myself.


The following morning greeted me with glorious clear blue sky sunshine and i was eager to explore.


8:00 am and I introduced myself to the Motel keeper, a delightful and very, very helpful lady. I bought an internet card and caught up with online stuff. Within half hour Ivy arrived on her bike so off to breakfast. This is when the sights of Wanaka hit me.


First it was off to a remarkable outdoor breakfast beside the lake and overlooking the picture postcard snowcapped mountains. This is the sort of stuff you can see in travel brochure but usually never seem to exist. Here it really does.


After a visit to Ivy’s delightful out in the country apartment it was off exploring some mountain passes and tracks around the Wanaka lake and mountains.


I cannot remember where we went but we climbed and wound around such beautiful mountains, lakes and wild tracks. A lot of the roads here are dirt tracks like in Arizona and New Mexico so that all added to the adventure. All day it was clear blue, sunny, but not too hot. A very clear picturesque day and truly a day in paradise. As I write this on my laptop in the background I am unloading both video footage and still camera shots from the day. This is a huge collection. It was quite a battle separating myself from taking video and photos and truly experiencing our surroundings. At the end of the day I did feel that I had a achieved a very satisfying balance.


Away from the mountains we visited a pie shop for a late lunch and lazed by a remote emerald green river shore. What bliss.


From there it was off to Ivy’s favourite pub for a couple of pints of the local brewed beer, “brewski” which is a lovely tasting pilsner type lager with a bit of a citrus taste. There I met several of Ivy’s local friends. Again it was a bit of an outdoor ceili and lots of fun meeting and chatting to these folks. They are very, very good people here. As a parent, great to see your daughter surrounded by such good folk.


From the pub it was off to a movie at the local Paradiso cinema. Now that is truly a New Zealand experience you must not miss !!!


First, most of the seating in the cinema is usually stepped up theatre style seating, but the seats are not the usual sit up and beg seats. Almost the whole cinema is kitted out with very, very cozy sitting room sofas. The exception is a convertible Morris Minor car that couple can book to sit in, etc., for a virtual experience of being at a drive-in movie.


The movie was stopped in the middle and then we departed to the dining room where our pre-ordered meal was sitting out our places hot and ready to eat. That added to what turned out to be a very luxury night out. After meal teas, coffees and wines could then be taken back into the cinema for enjoying part two.


Our evening ended with a walk across the very small town of Wanaka to another delightful bar with homely welcome outdoors log fire and more sofas to relax in. After a drink it was time to return to me motel, Ivy to her apartment, after a very, very perfect day.


I am writing this the following day and it is not so blue and warm today. The cloud is high and sun is trying to get through the haze. There is a bit of a nip in the air too. Ivy is working this morning but should be away and visiting soon. Today we are going on a road trip. I was hoping to get to the surreal Milford Sound, widely used to promote New Zealand tourism, but I was told its a 5 hour drive from here so that will not happen. However, Ivy says we are in reach of the set landscapes of Lord Of The Rings and 10,000 BC so it looks like we will visit there today.


I look forward to sharing more adventures from Wanaka in my next Blogcard.  

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