October 3, 2017
Was up early as usual to do my exercises and found myself looking at an amazing Mt. Cook bathed in early morning sun. Truly it was magical!! I retract all of my “ho hum” remarks from last night. It was already 65 degrees and little wind. I had my first experience with sand flies (“no seeums”) which are predominant on the west coast where we are heading. This was just the beginning of a fabulous sensory day.
The drive south along Lake Pukaki was beautiful. At Peter’s lookout we saw 2 guys with a drone that had taken pictures. Am sure they were amazing today. At the southernmost tip of Lake Pukaki is the Mt. Cook Lookout where we stopped for photos and some Alpine Salmon Sashimi that comes from the highest salmon farm on the planet! The farm actually operates in a hydroelectric canal system on the east side of the lake.
From there we back tracked on SR8 again through Twizel. This time we stopped for a drive through. This town was built in 1968 to service construction of the hydroelectric power station and was due to be abandoned in 1984 when the project was completed. Now new lakeside subdivisions are taking advantage of the relaxed lake and mountain lifestyle! Cute and vibrant little town. The Lindis Pass was more interesting going south and got some good pictures of the St. Bathans Range. At Tarras we turned west on SR8A for the 30 km drive to Wanaka. This part of the trip was spectacular with the lush green fields in the foreground with the snow covered Richmond Mountains (?) as a backdrop.
Wanaka seems much smaller and has a laid back feel as compared to Qtown. There are not as many extreme sport options but there are plenty they are cheaper. We were the first to check into the Top 10 Wanaka Camp that has a great view of the mountains and the lake as we are perched on the south of town on the side of a mountain. Balmy 70 degrees so we had our sashimi and shared a Mac’s Green IPA at our picnic table.
Drove into town to New World to buy some rib eyes that Bob will cook on the gas “barbie” tonight along with his request for baked potatoes. Simple enough! Will have one of our “special” wines TBD. We took a long walk along the tree lined beach from the center of town to the “Wanaka Tree”, the town logo, which sticks out of the water not too far from the beach. The town itself is laid out across the street from the beach/trees/paths where cars can park. Great layout.
The went to Rippon, an old (1975) family owned vineyard and winery next to camp whose land is on the shores of Lake Wanaka. It is probably the most beautiful winery we have seen anywhere. It is biodynamic, no irrigation. The first vintage was in 1982 about the same time as Te Matea in Hawks Bay. The tasting was done in a small group (6) lead by a very knowledgeable young woman. We liked the Sav Blanc the best and it was produced in an unusual way; 50% of the time in old French oak and 50% in tank. Per the label ‘Texture: Wine must more than great fruit and acid balance. 40% of the 2016 was fermented in old French barrels not for the oak, but for the form of the vessel itself. Mouth feel is gained here by high lees to wine contact and a more efficient natural lees stirring across unhurried wild ferments”! She recommended dinner at Maude, a winery that has brought on a new chef that is said to be quite good. We are not up for another designer dinner at the chef’s whim so have made reservations at Relish that has been recommended. It is in the main part of town looking out at the lake.
Back to camp and it is still 70 degrees. Bought WiFi so perhaps I can get some pictures out tonight. Problem is when I have so many pictures the selection is difficult because I can’t see the pictures well enough. Did laundry and Bob is once again ironing!!! So much for all of the camping appropriate clothes I have bought him that actually dry in a reasonable time! Oh well.
Staying in Wanaka for another night and are hoping for good weather. (Have not checked tonight.) Plan B if it is raining is to go to Puzzling Works and a classic movie at Cinema Paradisio with craft beers! We will be spending more time on the west coast and are hoping for good weather. Rain is typically more likely but changes on a whim.