Wanaka, New Zealand
Today was a long long day.
The rain that had started late yesterday afternoon was showing no signs of letting up, and we were glad we’d been able to do the helicopter ride yesterday instead of waiting until this morning. We checked out of our motel in Fox Glacier in the morning before breakfast, to set off for Wanaka.
The lady at the motel warned us that some of the waterfalls could overflow and that there could be a lot of water on the road as a result in some places.
Great! More dangerous things!
The trip to Wanaka was about 260 km, and we expected it to take about 3.5 hours. It was another beautifully scenic drive through the mountains, with a glimpse of coastline in some places. Our first stop was Knights Point, which looked out to the sea. Unfortunately the viewing platform had been closed because it had become unstable, so we had to be satisfied with the view from the car park, which was still stunning, even on a wet overcast day.
We continued along Highway 6 to the town of Haast, where we finally turned away from the West Coast for the last time, and continued to Haast Pass. We stopped for coffee in Haast, and discovered we had another two hours drive ahead of us before we got to Wanaka.
We decided not to stop at any of the waterfall walks along the way because it was already a long drive and we had things we wanted to do in Wanaka in the afternoon. We drove along Lake Wanaka for a while and then the road took us over to Lake Hawea before we arrived in Wanaka, four hours after we’d left.
We had a quick lunch, checked into our motel and then headed out to do the things we wanted to do.
First up was Wanaka Beerworks, about nine km out of town. If you’ve ever heard of a stranger combination of businesses than Transport and Toy Museum, Toy Shop, Coffee Shop and Brewery, please let me know. We’d been looking forward to this all trip.
We set Kramstable loose in the toy shop (what could possibly go wrong) and made our way to the bar for a tasting. One of the brewers was available to talk to us for a short time about what they do, and about their beers. Slabs and I both liked the Cardrona Gold, which really did taste like biscuits, and I loved the coffee stout. Very very bitter. Whoever came up with the idea of putting coffee into beer is almost as much of a genius as the person who put salt water and seaweed into beer.
We bought a mixed six pack to take home (not that it will last that long) and also a beer called Here Be Dragons, which has pinot noir grapes in it. A wine maker’s beer? A beer maker’s wine? Who knows. I can’t wait to taste it.
Our final stop for the day was Puzzling World, which Kramstable’s swimming teacher had told us about. It’s full of illusions and trickery, holograms, sculptures and optical illusions. You get tilted, tricked and shrunk, and then you go outside and get lost in the two-storey maze. It was lots of fun. Even the toilets were fun, and I don’t think there’s many other places you can say that about.
We had to admit defeat in the maze and escaped through the emergency exit, much to competitive me’s shame and everyone else’s relief. It’s a tough one! I imagine if we’d stayed in there too much longer they would have had to have come and got us, because it wasn’t far off closing time when we got out.
Relieved at having survived the maze, we headed back into town to our motel room, where we sat on our (almost) lake view balcony with a refreshing beverage to unwind from what had been a very full day.