Wind & Rain

Trip Start Jul 30, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Chalet Boutique Motel Lake Tekapo
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Riversong Bed & Breakfast Wanaka
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, December 23, 2010

"There are parts that are really like Scotland – only bigger! Maybe it's Scotland as seen by a Hobbit"
Billy Boyd (Pippin in LOTR), on New Zealand.

After Te Anau we drove to Wanaka, stopping off for lunch in Queenstown. Claire drove; I dozed so I can't really comment on the scenery we passed but we stopped off on a couple of occasions to pick our jaws up from the floor.

We spent a couple of days in Wanaka, mostly drinking wine and walking. We had planned on learning how to fly-fish but firstly the rain and then the gale-force wind meant that wasn't going to happen – trying to cast is nigh on impossible in a strong wind apparently – so instead we did a couple of bracing walks instead. Again the B&B we stayed at was excellent.

Wanaka itself is a small but pretty little township nestled at the southern end of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. All around the lakes are the Southern Alps with the main mountain being the optimistically named Mount Aspiring. Quite an inspiring view tho’

On the morning we were due to leave Wanaka the weather briefly cleared up. One of the owners of the B&B, Ian, with great patience, took us out by the river to learn how to cast using a fly-fishing rod and reel. 

Having coarse-fished as a kid on the River Cam I didn't think this would be too difficult. Oh how wrong I was. It's much more difficult, much more about the timing and control of the rod than it is with coarse fishing. Claire, I hate to say, managed to get the hang of it more quickly than me. But before we could put hook on our lines (and blind somebody) the weather closed in again making it impossible to continue.
And that, as far as Wanaka goes, is about it.

From Wanaka we drove up to Lake Tekapo for the night. We stopped off for lunch on the outskirts of the splendidly named town of Twizel. Small town but great little café called Poppies.

Shortly after leaving Twizel we came to a halt. A couple of farmers and their pack of collies (honoured by a statue in Tekapo) were shepherding several hundred sheep across the road and a small queue of cars in both directions had formed. Not extraordinary in itself, this is NZ after all and sheep are not uncommon.  What was extraordinary was the field the sheep were going into.  To say it was huge doesn’t convey the scale of the field. It stretched as far as the eye could see over a flat and barren plain ending only at the horizon where the mountain range started. Every drive reminds you of how empty and unspoilt NZ is. This really is the most beautiful country.

After the sheep-stop it was only a short drive to Tekapo where we were staying just the one night. As we closed in on Tekapo the poor weather we’d left behind in Wanaka caught up with us until we found our new B&B. With regards to the B&B, Claire yet again had picked a gem.

The B&B we staying in overlooked the lake which is a brilliant turquoise blue. The colour (and here's the science) is created by the 'rock flour which is created by the glaciers in the headwaters of Tekapo. The 'flour' - or dust - is suspended in the water and leads to the almost opaque colouring when sunlight hits the water. Enough science? Thought so.

Tekapo is pretty small and there were only a handful of places to eat close to the lake and where we were staying, none of which were especially inspiring. What Tekapo does how however is an observatory up on Mnt John which Claire was interested in visiting. The only time available was 23:45 (which makes sense as you want to see the night sky) so off she went leaving me to watch TV and update the blog.

On a completely separate issue it’s been interesting watching NZ and Aussie news down here and hearing about the complete shambles of Heathrow. Yes, yes I know that Paris and Frankfurt are also impacted but our antipodean cousins tend to visit the UK in preference to France and Germany. It’s not good press and the UK (and esp, Heathrow) really isn’t coming out of this well.  So get down to West London and start shifting that snow, assuming you can dig yourself out of your house!
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