Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Weekend

So we left Queenstown by midday Saturday. This is a picture from the road. Since we'd already been halfway there via the Crowne Road (see Thursday), we decided to go the "long way" around (instead of over. This brought us to Gibbston Valley winery where we had lunch and toured their wine cave. They actually blasted out a huge section of hill, and then sprayed cement all over the inside so it wouldn't have dirt & rocks showing. They oak their wines in the cave because the earth controls the humidity and temperature a lot better than anything they could build.

Next, we made our way down the road. This is just an example of how driving on the left changes everything. If you can't zoom enough, it does read, "Keep Left Unless Passing." They also paint arrows on the roadway near photo ops & turn-outs to remind us tourists which side of the road goes which way. We've heard that they don't do this so much on the North Island (population 3 million), because there's always someone wherever you drive, to remind you. But here on the South Island (population 1 million), it's a lot easier to forget.

So we arrived in Wanaka. It's also a town on a lake, surrounded by mountains. The ug-fest continues. This first shot is from the top of the hill behind our B&B ( Wanaka Springs Lodge - highly recommended to anyone that plans to be in the region). It's run by Lyn and Murray Finn, a wonderful, warm couple that has created a beautiful B&B that's both welcoming and luxurious. It's a perfect place to include on a honeymoon! Although we definitely enjoyed our time in Queenstown, it seems that Wanaka is a bit more our speed. And Travis definitely loves the cocktail hour that includes chatting with other lodgers!

Here are some more views from near our B&B:
On Sunday, for NZ Father's Day, we went snowboarding once again. The views were fabulous:
They also had PARROTS as their version of camper Jays. It was crazy!
Unfortunately, spring conditions in NZ don't mean what they do in Western Washington. So it wasn't 70 degrees out (no bikini day here). It was pretty slick, and there are several cat-tracks on this mountain, so it was pretty tiring and we called it a day early on. We did use this opportunity to enjoy one of our most anticipated moments this trip (second to the Canyon Swing). Right after the mountain, we climbed into a hot tub and relaxed for awhile. It was nearly heaven. Of course, we had to look out at the views surrounding Wanaka, which is always lame as you can see. But we suffered through.

After our hot tub, we wandered into town and had lunch at the movies. Cinema Paradiso is the local theater, and they have a cafe attached. So we had cheesy garlic bread, Hawaiian pizza (yes, we are doing a lot of pizza while we're here), and beers. We watched the new Batman from the inside of a car, inside the theater. This wasn't our first choice seating, but it was the only place left inside that could seat two by the time we got there. It was nice to be able to sip our beers while watching the movie, and we did get to hang out with quite a few locals in the process. The punk kids on the couch in front of us tried to tell us we were speeding. I told them I thought that the drinking might be more of an issue, if they're going to give us a ticket for something...
Tomorrow, the weather's supposed to be bad, so we're planning on checking out some of the local museums. There's a fighter plane museum for Trav & a puzzle world for Melissa - should be fun!

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