Our Wanaka Top 10 campsite left a little to be desired – all soap dispensers in the washrooms empty, for example – but it was quite well situated as we left to visit the shores of Lake Wanaka itself. We pulled into the first off road parking area to be faced by bunches of lupins, all be they yellow [fussy chaps, photographers], fronting the shore. As I parked Busby, Francine headed for the lake front.
There are a few classic subjects that landscape photographs love and one of those is a lone tree with its feet in water. There is a famous example of this type in the English Lake District on Lake Buttermere. A friend of ours has found another, even better example, in the Snowdonia National Park of Wales. Purely by chance we had stumbled into the iconic New Zealand example of its type. And what a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. I snapped a few while Francine gave the surrounding waters her Lee Big Stopper treatment. [The naturally imposed blue cast means that they’ll take some processing before being ready for display, though.]
We were heading for Te Anau, well beyond Queenstown on the one road in and out of Milford Sound. Being one of the tourist hotspots, we’d booked a spot in the campsite to be safe.
Leaving Wanaka behind we headed through very pleasant, if unspectacular countryside – the trouble is that parts of New Zealand sort of redefine spectacular and expectations get adjusted accordingly – towards a famous historic hotel at Cardrona. A spit before Cardrona is what has become a possibly more famous sight. I parked but Busby’s key fob failed to lock the doors a few times before I managed to get it to work. Worrying.
Years ago a tourist with a bizarre sense of amusement clearly thought it would be a jolly wheeze to leave her bra tied to a wire fence. Humans being little more intelligent, on the whole, than sheep, first dozens then hundreds followed suit. The fence is now covered with bras and has become known as Bradronda. Bizarre it may be but at least it has been turned to good use by having been given a collection box for donations towards breast cancer.
Busby unlocked but I again had trouble locking him at the hotel where we stopped for a cup of coffee. Now I was certain I needed to call into the Maui office in Queenstown.
The drive to Queenstown twisted and climbed its way through a landscape that looked a little more like desert, similar to the Desert Road on North Island in some respects. Clearly it isn’t desert, though, since there are chain bays spaced regularly along the road. The descent into Queenstown rounded several sharp hairpin bends which stop the wary driver looking at the scenery. The occasional glimpse proved it was a impressive, though.
We found the Queenstown Maui centre, had the power cable checked and the battery in the key fob renewed. We swapped our also temperamental Kiwi Satnav which occasionally failed to run on vehicle power. Poor electrical connections seemed to have been a feature, though not terminal problems. Our package also includes a change of bed linen and towels, which Francine collected.
We were both expecting the road between Queenstown and Te Anau to be somewhat slow and arduous but in fact it proved to be relatively straight and fast. At least our journey back this way should be relaxing. At Kingston we had lunch and I had something of an epiphany, reversing Busby towards a lake shore and throwing open the rear doors to give us a lunch view. It’s taken two weeks but maybe I’m getting the hang of this campervan lark. 🙂
Fuel prices had still been high in Queenstown (NZ$1.56) and I was expecting them to be high in Te Anau, being a centre for trapped Milford Sound tourists, so I was mighty surprised to find an unmanned automated fuel station in Mossburn selling diesel at NZ$1.26. Had I taken a wrong turn and ended up back on North Island? I’ll have some of that. I should be able to have some more of it on the way back from Milford Sound, too.
Another word about diesel in passing. In New Zealand, diesel fuel is untaxed at the point of sale so is considerably cheaper than unleaded fuel. However, diesel is taxed after the event – there’s a charge based on mileage [does one ever say kilometerage?] which I think it’s called a Diesel Recovery Charge, or some such. Our package includes a flat rate charge for that so we don’t have to worry.
Te Anau looked very pleasant and, after our newly checked short electric cable failed to reach at our first pitch, we were rewarded with the best pitch on site, right at the edge and facing the fence, unsociable gits that we are.