Climbing over the Cardona pass this morning we saw DEB1AN going the other way :)
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I had directions to Wha Paka Pai for breakfast and I still managed to divert us to the bead shop, wool shop and second hand bookshop on the way, sorry get lost :) On the way to a nice eggs benedict on toasted brioche loaf Simon spotted a duck fight, with feathers plucked mid air. On the way back I stopped to take photos and three ducklings rushed up to stare at my feet.
Driving out of Wanaka the brown and green slopes and flanks of the mountains stretch and snooze under the blue sky, the peace broken only by the sight of a monster wheeled pink Cadillac. With horns. For posterity we should also record the monster minivan and monster bus. The rest of Cardrona is more restrained, but the sheep may have difficulty getting to the hotel with a vintage car in the way (see classic Speights advert).
No snow in the pass this time, just folds of golden brown slopes studded with tussocks and tumbling streams - and sheep and two wild chamois goats. There's a stunning view down into the Queenstown Valley and Lake Wakatipu, with the river anduin (er) snaking under precipitous bluffs and the peaks marching along the skyline. The hairpin bends wind their way down Coronet Peaks (and around and down and around and down and...). We diverted up to the Kareware suspension bridge for the diversion of seeing people suspended by the feet. We watched several brave lunatics do the bungee then headed along the lake to Queenstown and Glenorchy, passing much beautiful hillside and lakeside along the way, as well as numerous Lord of the Ring locations, waterfalls, lupins, views of TSS Earnslaw steaming across lake etc. Followed the unmade road towards beech forests of Paradise to the point where it becomes *really* pot-holed (theologically appropriate). Resisted most of the possum products in Glenorchy on account of price and percentage of room left in luggage but I did get a bag of offcuts for my knitting, so we've done our bit for native NZ flora and fauna. I don't approve of the fur trade in any shape or form but every wild possum trapped or shot out here is a ton of vegetation a day left for the things that kiwis eat to eat. Roadkill gives a steady possum per mile count but nowhere near enough to reduce the infestation.
Saw a tui perched in a tree on the way back and a rainbow across the lake. Stopped in Queenstown to wander on the lake shore and toss pebbles in the water (heading for shore? try again!) and watch the Earnslaw chug away and swing on the swingseat and see the abandoned mini golf next to the three pun bars (Bardeaux, Barmuda and Barup - frankly we don't get that one at all). We bought a 'rigger' of Ginger Tom from Dux de Lux to enjoy on the road (alcoholic ginger beer, microbrewery) and set off on the curvy back roads to Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is still cute and historic and under heavy if tasteful development. The Settlers Cottage motel has changed hands but is just as nice to stay in. Saffron hasn't changed at all - still delicious! We had an excelent local Carrick Pinot Gris - 2006 so very fresh and zesty for a pinot, Westcoast whitebait flour fried in virgin olive oil and sauted with garlic and lemon, rabbit and prune with parpadelle, lamb stuffed with pine nuts and spinach on a rosti and rack of rosy veal with shallots and orso pasta cake, then significant debate before we settled on vanilla, whisky and drambuie (incidentally, what is drambuie a liquer of anyway?) creme brulee, coconut crepes with rum banana and grilled pineapple and passionfruit ice cream, tokay and central Otago late harvest riesling (they really do noble rot everything here). Yum! And one of the waitresses recognised us from two years ago :)
Not a cloud in the sky except the greater and lesser Magellanics and the fool moon outshining the streetlights. Simon spotted the Southern Cross and I saw a shooting star.
Arrowtown has sprouted several more cafes and delis, and some more metal sculptures as well as a shop selling the corrugated iron animals. Bought muffins and venison pies and lemon and jam puffs to sustain us on the road for a long driving day. Fed muffin to Simon as we drove over Cardrona to the accompaniment of baby bird peeping noises and many bad puns. Am wearing a Cardrona Hotel Speights Tshirt today so posed for a photo outside said hotel. Back through Wanaka, with a diversion to the transport museum and wool shop where I was somewhat restrained but picked up more wools for my Driving through New Zealand Spring scarf. Then back onto 6 for Haast, passing the hay bale hiker.
Some time after Cameron Flat it began raining and the rest of the day is mostly Driving In Driving Rain. We stopped to watch the pale blue water gush and plummet through the Gates of Haast but passed up all the other viewpoints. Stopped at Knight's Point lookout to eat lunch without getting out of the van (funnily, it's not enough rain to wash away the sandflies).
Passed two white gumboots nailed to a tree stump and WORLD BAR SECRET HQ camoflage hut (shhh!). Misty mountains loom up out of the rain.
Up the side road for a view of Fox glacier past a warm spring (cool! says Simon, and then 'bloody cold for a warm spring'). Waterfalls gushing, streams streaming, ditches brimming etc. Is Wet.
Inspirerd by the giant hand advertising Dominator garage door openers we collect giant 3D adverts for things - apples, stawberries, beer, chainsaws... And at the video store in Wanaka today we saw a new giant hand - the hand of a giant gorilla clutchin Fay Wray in mid air...