Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> New Zealand South Island 2002


I was dropped off at the youth hostel, which is a kilometre out of Wanaka's centre. (This was only annoying because it was very hot during my stay and there wasn't much shade on the walk in.) I had to wait to check in - in the smaller youth hostels the office only opens at 5pm - then I headed off to do a short (1.5 hour) walk up Iron Mountain, which gave a nice view of the lake and the mountains to the north and of the valleys to the south. I discovered I had sore Achilles tendons, almost certainly from the insanely heavy boots I'd worn on the glacier walk at Franz Joseph the day before.

After a quick email check at a cybercafe I wandered around looking at the options for dinner. Wanaka is quite a big town and very touristy, with quite a range of restaraunts (including Thai and Indian ones), but I ended up getting a takeaway pizza and going back to the hostel.

Friday February 15th

I got up around 8, walked down to the lake and hitched the 6km to the start of the climb up Roy's Peak. I got a ride with a local building worker, who was obviously in the right place - going by all the real estate agents and the half-built houses, Wanaka is in the middle of a housing boom.

It was a bit of an ugly 1300m climb up to Roys Peak - on a farm road, with cows and sheep and no shade at all. I was passed on the way by two young Frenchmen and two older Germans, which left me wondering if I was as fit as I thought, but they turned out to be the front-runners for two separate groups of about a dozen each, who straggled in over more than an hour at the top, and that made me feel a bit better. The views from the top were really spectacular. After the walk down I got a hitch back into town within 30 seconds, with a German woman coming back from paragliding in the mountains.

I now put nearly every scrap of clothing I had into a washing machine, leaving me with only mismatched socks (one thin, short and grey; one long, thick, and blue-white), my swimming costume (blue shorts), my thermal top (longsleeved with black and white stripes), my hat (dirty grey), and my volleys! So I headed down to the lake for a quick swim and lay around on the beach, under a tree, reading. There were lots of young German women in bikinis lying in the sun trying to get a tan - Australians and New Zealander don't do that so much any more, but publicity about the dangers of skin cancer obviously isn't so widespread in Germany. [On this subject, I was amazed by how few people, either locals or tourists, wore hats. Perhaps one person in ten had any kind of head covering, and they were mostly just baseball caps that did nothing to protect the ears or the back of the neck.]

After a quick visit to the bookshop, I went back to the hostel and booked accommodation and buses for the rest of the trip. I wanted to spent two days in Mt Cook, but lack of vacancies there meant I ended up with one day in Tekapo and one in Mt Cook. Then it was back to town for another email check and dinner - probably the nicest meal of the trip, a roast salmon steak on a nut/pesto linguini, with a serving so big it would have fed two of me.

Saturday February 16th

I packed up my stuff and headed into town. Having finished The Last of the Wine on the bus from Franz Joseph, I needed another book and there wasn't much choice in the PaperPlus - a volume of Katharine Mansfield's short stories was tempting, but it was too large to pack comfortably, so I opted for Sándor Márai's Embers. I then had breakfast with a nice view over the lake and waited for the bus.

It was overcast as the bus headed up to Lindis pass and the tops of the hill were hidden in cloud. The bare hills and the sheep made me think of poetry about Yorkshire, while the power transmission lines and dams had me musing about power grids. We stopped for lunch in Twizel, where I had a very tasteless pesto spaghetti, perhaps the most disappointing meal of the trip.

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