yesterday we drove from fox glacier to lake wanaka, after a short drive (6 km) to lake matheson and a 20 minute walk to another stunning lake and view (and more photos of leaves and moss!). the forecast was rain - some rain but lots of wind and a cloudy sky. lake matheson has a GREAT cafe and gift shop, so we bought some lovely stuff.
then a winding drive along the south-west coast towards haas for a veg soup lunch and petrol for $2.09 a litre! wild wind and rain, proper coastal weather. we passed a tiny township (a few houses, really) along a beach where lots of driftwood sticks and stones had been arranged, presumably by anyone and everyone, into shapes, figures, cairns, crosses, etc etc. had the weather not be so foul we would have stopped at this wonderful, whimsical outdoor folk art gallery.
the drive to haast pass was nothing like the drive to arthur's pass - long, winding curves just above river level, with the mountains climbing steeply on either side. in fine weather we would have been stopping to take photos every 10 mins. haast pass seemed a relatively gentle climb, but for the first time we saw ice beside the road. so many stunning vistas that after a while you cease stopping to take photos and just gaze and marvel.
the landscape is dizzying, its proportions defy your brain. even when we stop and look, i can't make sense of what i see. i've been to the rocky mountains in colorado, but the sheer vertical power of the planet's tectonic plates smashing together wins here. i'd like to say that i'm awe-struck by the majesty, but it's more than that - what i see looks impossible. i'd have to spend days here for my mind and heart to make any sense of it. and then there are some sheep, so, you know, it's all rather normal and australian again... apart from the snow capped peaks.
finally we hit lake wanaka. again i have nothing to say that makes sense of what I'm seeing. a long winding road along the side of the biggest lake i've ever seen, with snow-capped peaks on either side. wild wind and drizzling rain. only couple of place where it safe to stop for photos (falling rocks). then when you think it's almost over, the road turns to take you along the side of lake hawea, and at that point you've taken so many photos that you just stop and shake your head in disbelief. i have never seen country like this.
we arrive at wanaka at dusk. it's a town, not a village, clearly with a steady flow of tourists. we're in a two bedroom motel unit a couple of minutes from lakeside. tonight i'm cooking NZ angus beef in a red wine mushroom sauce (a dash of local pinot - still trying to find some good wine here... perhaps i'm not spending enough or don't know the right labels - likely the latter!) then another night of cards (we've bought "Loot" - a Gamewright game - we have a few at home) and teaching maddy how to play that game called "oh hell" or "oh bother" or "up and down the river", depending on who you learned from. how does this girl beat me so easily at the games that i teach her???