Alls well that ends well – the road to Wanaka & beyond

The road between Franz Josef and Wanaka is a windy and beautiful one. There are times when you are so far in the middle of no where that even modern day technology fails you and there is no reception. We happened to be going through one such spot when our little bus started coughing and wheezing and really not sounding healthy at all. And then she stopped. We luckily landed on the crest of a curve where there was an area to pull over and a nice view of the sea. Of course, we all had our opinions on how to handle the situation but really our only option was to flag someone down and ask them to call Stray as soon as they hit reception. Nipper took to the highway as our first knight in shining armour and began flagging people down. One lady drove off as soon as we got excited that someone was stopping, one group stopped thinking we were looking at an amazing view and then finally we got a tour bus who knew the area and a mechanic 20km down the road. He left us to find reception, make the calls and we got comfortable waiting in the sun.

Our second knight in shinning armour arrived an hour later and decided it was the turbo shaft. We could drive, albeit slowly, to the garage and there was a cafe/ bar down the street where we could go while we waited for a new bus. So off we went, me quoting “The Little Train that Could”, “I think I can, I think I can…” as we chugged along.

Fate landed us on the doorstep of the Frontier Café and Bar at the Heartland World Heritage Hotel in Haast where I don’t think see more than 5 people in the run of an afternoon off season let alone 40 some hungry and thirsty backpackers in one go. We caused a bit of a kerfuffle but they took us in giving us regulars price for drink and got the oven stoked and took care of us. As did Stray giving us each a tab by way of apology as we wouldn’t be making it to Wanaka till late that evening and leaving bright and early to head to Queenstown the next morning.

Our final knight in shining armour arrived at sunset riding a brand new bus! Pacman had drove all the way from Queenstown to collect us and bring us back. We were all pretty happy by this point so the bus transformed to a party bus with everyone singing and dancing the night away.


The next morning my alarm went off like a hole in the head at 6:30am. I was determined to see a bit of this town that everyone said was beautiful and I only had till quarter to 10 to do it or I would be hitching my way to Queenstown. The sun was streaming through the windows of the kitchen and the view from the balcony was amazing. I didn’t waste much time and headed straight to the lake!

Wanaka is a small mountain town situated on the large crystal blue lake, Lake Wanaka. It’s backdrop – the Southern Alps. The air was so fresh and clean, my surroundings so picturesque I wanted to break into the Sound of Music. As I made my way to the shoreline I happed across Kai Whakapai Cafe and Bar. A sweet cafe that happened to be open and treated myself to a Hot Chocolate and Museli bar.

There is a famous tree which grows near the shoreline of Lake Wanaka. It is known as the Wanaka Tree and must be one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand. It grows crooked and twisted out of the water, making shade for any fish passing by. It’s green leaves a vibrant contrast against the snow capped mountains. I of course took photos.

wanakatreelandscapeReluctantly, when my time was up I turned around on the path and headed back to the Base Hostel. It was time to head to the fabled Queenstown making a pit stop at the 45th parallel and Mrs Jones Fruit Orchard in Cronwell. There you can find every fruit imaginable including golden kiwi which I had never heard of before and freshly made fruit ice cream . Under Nipper and Pacmans recommendations I got a scoop of honeycomb and Boysenberry ice cream in a waffle cone. Delicious!

So despite the hiccup at the beginning of the story, in the end, alls well that ends well. And it did. Three shining Knights, a visit to one of the most beautiful towns I have ever been, stand at a parallel, have home made ice cream and watch a bunch of people bungee off the Kawarau Bridge. The very first bungee in the world. Not to shabby for a hiccup.


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