Friday, September 17, 2010

Winter wonderland


No, we didn't get to go to Milford. Sigh. That's me, on the ferry to Stewart Island, enjoying the brisk air at the back of the boat.

I'm writing from Wanaka, north of frenetic Queenstown. It's off-season everywhere but the ski fields, and half a day in Queenstown yesterday was enough for all of us, validating our decision to go to Wanaka for a snow experience. Queenstown is for the tourists, Wanaka is where the locals hang out to ski. It's MUCH quieter, and almost as pretty.

Wanaka Spring

Today, after an entertaining couple of hours at Puzzling World (different, but similar in many ways, to Tasmazia), I am staying home in the motel room to get a huge amount of washing done and photos sorted and labelled while the boys go off in search of snow. They didn't have to look far -- we can see the snowy mountain tops from the room, and just as they were getting into the car snow started falling on us, although not for long. So they went up to the ski fields, and spent a few hours flinging snowballs at each other. They came back dripping a little while ago, changed into freshly tumble-dried clothes, and went back to Puzzling World (all day access once stamped). I'm enjoying the solitude. And the facebook gaming. And the sun that just started coming through the front window.

Last night we cooked our own meal (love motel rooms with full kitchens). Tonight we're going to Cinema Paradiso, one of the town's attractions, to see a movie. Lucky us, the cinema is right next door to our digs.

So: since I finished my residency, what have we done?

1. A tour of the Otago Peninsula, looking at Larnach Castle and the other beautiful houses along the way. We took a Monarch cruise on the harbour waters to see seals and birds; we went 1km out to sea and found an albatross heading back to land to mate, then we turned the boat around and followed it in and watched it circle on the (relatively weak that day) winds, gaining altitude until it could land on the tip of the peninsula, and saw it land (well, face-plant would be a better description) for its first time in ages. Magic.

2. We drove down the coast via the Catlins, stopping to see lighthouses, waterfalls, caves that closed ten minutes before we arrived, a fossil forest on a beach and other marvels.

3. We had a chance to fondle cats at Bluff, then caught a ferry over to Stewart Island and Ulva Island, as I mentioned in the last post.

4. We didn't get the chance to see Milford Sound, but we cruised on Lake Te Anau and had a look at some young limestone caves (as opposed to all the old caves we've seen in Australia) and a gorgeous glowworm grotto.

5. On the way to Te Anau we walked on a long cold windy beach with an amazing view of tall snowy peaks, and watched fossickers looking for gold in a stream running onto the beach. The beach also has precious stones washed on to it regularly, beautifully tumbled by the sea. We talked to a fellow in long white gumboots carrying a bucket who walks up & down, inspecting what the sea washes up for his crystal & gemstone gallery.

5. Motivated by the boys' disappointment at not going to Milford Sound and not seeing a kiwi on Stewart Island (you need to go to the uninhabited side of the island, something we couldn't do), we went to a Kiwi Park in Queenstown and saw some captive kiwis. BB thought it was a trashy thing to do, until I pointed out that we'd paid to see Tasmanian Devils in Tasmania, and he'd been ok with that. We all really enjoyed the experience, and witnessed them being fed and also watched the sparkiness (or spikiness!) of female/male kiwi relations...

Next we'll head up the West Coast, if the Haast Pass is open, and catch some glacier action. After that we'll wend our way up and over and back to Christchurch by next Wednesday, when BB flies out to attend his Government School classes. We'll stay on a bit longer, until Sunday, probably hanging out at lovely Akaroa and surrounding bits.

How's this for a happy holiday snap?

Swinging Ulva

Ulva Island has a couple of rope swings on them, which made B's day.

A choice selection of holiday snaps here.


fifi said...

What a very fetching bonnet ye have on there. And perfect for new zulland.

I rather liked queenstown, I must say. And when I was there i had a swim in that lake.
In the nude. Looking up at the snow.
Dont tell anyone...

(to be honest i was very lucky not to have dropped dead,now that I think about it. That would have been embarrassing)

Cat Drawings said...

Glad you have such fond memories of Tasmazia.