Today we left Fox Glacier, headed for Wanaka. Before we left the valley, Mike said he wanted to show us one of his favorite spots. When we got out of the car the breathtaking view above was spread out before us. So much of our travels through New Zealand were like this: open, empty spaces that felt pristine. I do believe there is no place in this country where you could point a camera and not get a stunning shot.
Here is a picture of Mike and his Subaru. He loaded us and our gear in and out of his trusty Subaru several times a day for the eight days we spent together. Outside of the cities we traveled on two lane roads – no freeways – and met few other vehicles. Most bridges were one lane with a turnout at each end to allow vehicles to pass. Mike explained that there is a well defined bridge etiquette. You must give way to anyone on the bridge, but once you are on the bridge you are fully committed and must clear the bridge as quickly as possible. Apparently, these bridges confuse drivers in rented camper-vans because we would find them hesitantly waiting, staring at an empty bridge.
Drivers in New Zealand drive on the left side of the road, which means the driver rides on the right side of the vehicle. Bob and I were momentarily confused repeatedly throughout our stay in New Zealand to see Mike climb into the driver’s seat on the right side of the car. It makes me realize how much of driving is habit.
Below is a montage of New Zealand road signs that attracted my attention.
We arrived in Wanaka about noon. Wanaka is called the gateway to the Southern Alps, which is a wilderness of glaciers, beech forests and alpine lakes. The town wraps around the southern end of the lake. After getting some lunch we visited Wanaka Park and did some serious beach combing. The beach was covered with schist, shiny flat slabs of rock. I tucked several irresistible specimens into my luggage.
While we were at the beach Bob and Mike mapped out the next portion of our tour. Mike told us we would have to go with the weather if we wanted to vacation in the sunshine. He monitored the weather reports and steered us a sunny path for the whole time we were traveling together.
In the afternoon we paid a visit to Wanaka Public Library, where we took a break from the road and I visited with local staff.
After we left Wanaka we turned north to find our next B&B lodging. We have reservations at a place called The Nook. It is situated on acreage belonging to a family that runs a nursery, growing plants to be sold at garden centers.The house has a contemporary passive solar design. The picture here shows the sun room. All of the bedrooms and the bathroom open on to this sunny space. The owner built it for his mother who is now in a nursing home,so the couple use the house as a B&B to finance her care.
In general, we found lodging costs less in New Zealand. For example, The Nook was a spacious and well-appointed house. We got the whole house for $174 NZD. On the flip side, food was much more expensive, whether at the grocery store or in a restaurant. We saw more fresh food, but not as much processed snack food.