Dear everyone,

From Queenstown, we drove over the winding Crown Range Road to Lake Wanaka, but as it was raining and cloudy there are no photos of the scenery to post.  So, descending down the Cadrona Valley, a stop at the old pub for a cup of tea was most welcome.

I remember this old hotel from my childhood when it was just a derelict building which had once been a coaching stop on the long road between Queenstown and Wanaka. It is now renovated and a fine place to stop for lunch or dinner or just a drink.  

Pretty nice vintage car parked outside.

Early next morning we woke to fresh snow on the mountains.  NB, it is summer in NZ.

A quite decent amount of snow actually.

Later in the morning we drove around the road to ‘The Outlet’ where the lake flows into the Clutha River.

Lovely shady spot for a picnic on the bank of the Clutha River.

On the other side of the lake heading to Glendhu Bau and Treble Cone Ski Field, it was surely confirmed
that we were in NZ – a painted corrugated iron flag.

A group of farmed deer at the foot of Mt Roy which runs parallel to the lake.

After a relaxing day doing the local sights we decided to watch a movie in the evening, and we were charmed by the little movie theatre which I had known in my childhood days as the Methodist Chapel. We seated ourselves on an old sofa with a glass of wine and in the interval our ordered meals of pasta and a chicken wrap were waiting for us in the attached cafe. Would definitely recommend this theatre for a night out in Wanaka.

The quirky ‘Nuevo Cinema Paradiso’.

The next day, we had pre-booked a morning flight to Milford Sound which was to be followed by a boat trip on the fjord and flying back to Wanaka by mid afternoon and we were looking forward to this scenic treat.  The morning in Wanaka was warm, with clear blue skies, but when we arrived at the airport…. bad news.

The board at the airport said it all – no flights this morning.

However, there are always alternatives so we said we would be back to check on the afternoon flight if the weather
had improved and in the meantime, we took ourselves to the Toy and Car Museum.

My friend John, trying out a toy car under the watchful eyes of Rupert Bear, Mr Plod and a Strumph.

Toy cars, dolls, farms, children’s memorabilia of all shapes and sizes from the past and some wonderful old cars. 

Evidently, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon had been here the day before filming with one of the vehicles for a new movie
they are filming in NZ titled ‘A Wrinkle in Time’.  Sorry to have missed that.

There certainly were many makes, models and colours to choose from, and others outside waiting to be restored.

Planes too, and even a hansom cab, a Hong Kong rickshaw and one of the early Hamilton Jet Boats.

My favourite was this fire engine which I could not resist climbing into and donning the helmet too.

Never could resist a red car, and finally …. my childhood wish to have a pedal car was granted.  What fun!

With still an hour or so before we could check on the afternoon flights to Milford, and viewing old cars being thirsty work, we retired to the bar to sample one of the local craft beers.

The names were chosen to reflect the local area and I chose a ‘Cadrona Gold’.

Pretty delicious …

Back we went to the Airport to check on the weather in Milford to see if we could fly.  Not.  It was still cloudy and conducive for neither flying nor sightseeing.  But, there was another option to take a flight along the Southern Alps and circle Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain.  Well, why not, we thought.

At Wanaka Airstrip, our little 8 seater aircraft ready to go.

John and I secure with our seatbelts fastened and earphones on and excited to be on our way.

Up, up and away.  Looking down over the irrigated fields and the shoreline of nearby Lake Hawea.

Looking back to Lake Wanaka and the snow covered mountains behind.

Braided alluvial rivers winding their way down from the high country to the lakes.

A majestic mountain emerging from the cloud.

A jagged cliff of ice and snow.

In a small plane, you fly low over the mountains, see every detail … and feel every bump.

Aorangi (Mt Cook) 12,218 feet or 3,724 metres high, on of about 10 peaks over 10,000 feet in the Southern Alps.

A glacier (the Hooker?) snakes down a valley below the Alps.

Flying back down into the Southern Lakes region, the alluvial fans from fast moving streams leave their mark.

A fine view of ‘The Neck’, a thin strip of land between Lakes Hawea (in foreground) and Lake Wanaka behind. The road winding along the left side of Lake Hawea is the one we will take tomorrow on our way through the Haast Pass to the West Coast.

Descending back into Wanaka Airport is Horseshoe Bend, a favourite fishing spot on the mighty Clutha River.

Coming into land, I loved the shadow of our plane against the circular markings of the irrigation spray machines.

A  lovely few days in Lake Wanaka, seeing the sights, meeting with old friends and enjoying a delicious venison meal, reminiscing at the car and toy museum, enjoying the movie ‘Lion’ in an iconic movie theatre, and circling Mt Cook.  Not a bad two days at all in the part of New Zealand that I think of as home.

Next blog, come with me through the Haast Pass and enjoy a couple of days on the wild West Coast.