Lake Matherson, Puzzles, Climbing, Canyoning and Car Key Faff
13.03.2012 - 17.03.2012
Next stop after Franz Josef was Wanaka, A really picturesque town right on the edge of Lake Wanaka (Suprisingly). The drive down was really nice through mountains and past lakes and also included some nice stop offs; Lake Matherson (Where we joined quite a lot of other tourists on a pleasant hour walk to go get the famous picture of Mount Cook reflected in the lake), Fox Glacier (Where we hopped out the car for about 2 seconds, took a picture, then hopped back in again. Fox Glacier, Tick) and Haast (Not sure we made it into actual Haast as there was nothing around other than the place we stopped to have lunch, which was FULL of antlers hung on the roof beams randomly). In summary a really sunny day and a beautiful drive! (The further south you go in New Zealand the more picturesque it seems to get)
Once we arrived in Wanaka, I had to go find a separate hostel to Tracey and Emma, as they had cleverly booked, where as I had not. Luckily it worked out well however as when I arrived in my room I spied a climbing rope tucked under the bunks so I instantly corned everyone I saw asking “Is That Your Rope??”. So that way I found a climbing buddy (Tuan) and therefore spent a couple of my days in Wanaka doing some routes (though nothing too challenging as we were teaching someone new). The rock was pretty good (a nice change from Paynes Ford slopers) and both days went by with minimal faff (though we had some standard leading panic and had some comic shouting, especially when one climb had very well hidden chains, but two rusty bolts in plan view, leading to the assumption of being very high up with no way to get down.
Other than climbing I also had an exciting day at puzzling world with Tracy, Emma, Jon (another Irish recruit) and Amy (A girl from out hostel). We started off in the “Illusion Rooms” where Emma was particularly comical trying to walk around a room designed to throw you off balance and we checked out some other illusions including the Ames Room and a room filled with faces with seem to follow you. The main event however was the maze. Some of our crowd were a bit dubious to begin with, however the competive streak got the better of everyone and we were soon running around, pushing children out the way (not really) racing to finish first. I came first (and was rewarded by having to sit by myself for 10 minutes), Tracey came second, Amy and Emma finished third together (looking thoroughly surprised to have not come last seeing as they were considerably less competitive about it than the rest of us) and Jon came last looking a bit angry and muttering to himself about the novelty having worn off. After that we competed with millions of Asian people trying to get the standard photos of holding up the leaning tower (though lots of people didn’t seem to quite understand the concept of perspective so couldn’t get their photos to work) and then headed home. Later in the evening we all met up again (minus Amy who had got the bus to Queenstown) and went to the cinema; where you can sit on sofas, drink wine, eat popcorn and get a fresh baked cookies in the interval. Much better than the Mallard.
My final exciting activity in Wanaka was a day Canyoning. I went on the “Leaping Burn Max” trip which was a trip for “The extremely fit with previous experience” which really meant you have to walk up a pretty steep hill to get there and you musnt be a complete idiot with abseiling (as none of us had previous experience with canyoning but we were fine). So the day started at 8.30am with us all standing in the street getting odd looks whilst we tried to work out which wetsuits would fit us. We then drove to the Canyon, got changed into shorts and thermal t-shirts provided for us, then quickly overheated in them whilst we struggled up the steep hill (using fixed ropes to haul ourselves up sections and fighting our way through prickly bushes on questionable paths, all the while being encouraged by the guide saying things like “I think I’ve taken you the wrong way, oh no I think we’re alright”). Eventually we made it to the canyon, had a 5 minute lesson on using a figure of eight device to abseil, and changed into our wetsuits.
The next few hours we spent negotiating our way down, starting off with a 8m jump into the canyon itself (into water obviously) and continuing with loads of different abseils (through waterfalls, In waterfalls, next to waterfalls), going head first down a slide enclosed in rock (when they tell you to slide down it head first you look down the steepish drop into darkness and think “really?”), more jumps, floating down the river, hanging off ledges over steep drops whilst you wait for the ropes to be set up and generally being a bit dangerous (a nice change in a guided tour). All this activity was broken up with crazy dancing to try keep warm (we all started off quite reserved worrying about looking mildly rediculous, but eventually caution got thrown to the wind when we all got too cold to care about how silly you look manic dancing in a wetsuit to no music) and a gormet lunch of chocolate biscuits and Salami wrapped around cheese. Eventually we made it to the end where we had to abseil down a 100m waterfall and had an optional 15m jump (I chickened out and carried on abseiling), then drove back to base (where we got more blocks of cheese in eat in the car on the way back as we didn’t have time to make sandwiches). By the time I had got my photo CD and was back in the hostel it was 8pm, a mere 3.5 hours later than it said in the leaflet…
Overall a pretty active stay in Wanaka, now im heading to Queenstown to catch up with Tracey and Emma (who went there for St.Patricks day). So far I reckon Wanaka has been my favourite spot, and I wish I could stay a bit longer, but I’m also quite excited to go to Queenstown to do my bungy jump! (well half excited, half terrified).
The only bad part of my stay here was when I threw all my stuff into the boot of my car, slammed the boot shut and realised my car key was in the pile of stuff…and the car doors were locked. I then had to pay $60 to get it back, which took the locksmith about 20 seconds of work. Sigh.