Wanaka Gone-aka

Trip Start Jun 10, 2009
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Trip End Sep 07, 2009


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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, August 17, 2009

Wanaka was a disappointment, although I wasn't expecting anything amazing. The town itself was all right, and in fact had some great views of the mountains over the lake it borders, but several things left my experience there wanting. It did, however, signal a new stage in my New Zealand travels.

When we first arrived it was 7:30 p.m. and dark, and we started looking for a hostel. A snowboarding festival had just ended (the one Philipp went to), so we thought there would be some space, but every hostel we visited was either full or had at most one bed. After finding three hostels with one bed each, we split up and agreed to meet at the local cinema at 8:30 to see what was playing after settling in and eating. I had just made some baked beans and toast when I saw that "Public Enemies" was playing at 8, and it was the last movie for the night (the cinema was only one screen), so I bolted my food and literally ran across town to the other hostels. We got to the cinema at 8:10 to be told it was sold out and we were late anyway. There was nothing else to do that night, so we retired to our respective hostels, planning to meet in the morning to decide what we could do.

After checking out the iSite, we discovered that the only free or cheap things to do in the area were hikes and Puzzling World, a sort of museum dedicated to, what else, puzzles and illusions. However, disagreement soon sprang up when we talked about whether to stay another night. I stated that if we stayed another night we'd waste the next day driving the few hours to Fox Glacier, our next destination, and then just sitting around in the afternoon for hours, while we could just drive up in the afternoon after doing both hikes and Puzzling World. Sebastian and Dom said they felt that it was OK if we wasted one day, even if we did just sit around for hours in Fox Glacier, and preferred to stay one more night. I decided that it was time for me to be moving along on my own (with no bad feelings between us or anything) and that I would hitch to Fox Glacier that afternoon after doing some stuff in Wanaka during the day.

Philipp was actually still in town, so we went to the hostel he was at to pick him up so he could do some stuff with us. He wanted to go on a four-hour hike that supposedly provided some great views of the area, and I chose to go with them, a decision I regretted soon after we were on our way when I realized what it would do to me hitchhiking time. Thankfully, on the way there was a washout where a stream crossed the road and none of us thought the already over-loaded car could make it across in one piece or without getting stuck, so we turned around and headed back to town and Puzzling World. Parts of it were free, but the majority cost money, and while I didn't think I would pay I ended up going ahead and buying tickets to the rest of the place. There were four illusion rooms that were fairly neat (following faces, holograms, a tilted room that messed with your perspective, etc.) and a big maze that I ended up having more fun in than I thought I would. Since Puzzling World was on the edge of town, I left the other guys there and hiked out of town a ways until I found a suitable hitching location.

Thankfully, I didn't have too long to wait. A campervan driven by a Belgian girl named Amelie (which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite movies and one we watched recently in Dunedin) stopped after about 10 or 15 minutes. Amelie agreed to take me to Fox Glacier and, after hearing me describe what was there and what you could do, decided to stop there for a night as well. The West Coast Road is a beautiful winding drive, and a few hours later, I had made it to Fox Glacier.
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