We left our campsite after saying farewell to our duck friends and headed into Wanaka at 8am to make our first dump stop. There’d been various jokes pre trip, ahem Dad, about splashback when emptying the toilet bucket (or cassette if we’re being pros) but actually it was way easier (and cleaner) than we anticipated. Empty and rinse of the loo pot then empty the water from the shower and sink and fill up with fresh water – click everything back into place y esta! And the only splashes we suffered were from the fresh water hose so no problem. Clean and full was our Joe.
Next was a stop off at the little airport just 10km outside of Wanaka. Yep you guessed it – to book our skydive! I never thought I’d do something like this and had never even given it much thought, but was pretty excited and grinning like an idiot when we booked it. The guys and girls were so chilled and just popped us on for the 2pm jump in a couple of days and we left a bit like… that was too easy to book jumping out of a plane!? Gaaaah!
With Ros recommendation of visiting a certain pub we took the Cardrona road to yep, Cardrona and it took is no time to get there. Aw we were glad we stopped as the hotel/restaurant/pub was so antiquey and quirky and odd and full of stories. As with 99% of the buildings in this green sparsely populated country this place was only on the ground floor and from the outside looked like a big freight container. There was a cute little churchy looking art gallery next door which we popped into first – a very friendly girl was painting away in there and chatting to us as we looked around the one room covered from top to bottom in paintings, sculptures, postcards, cards, jewellery – all made by herself and another local artist also by the name Melissa. She said it was a bit annoying as every single person asked her oh did you do this? and of course she has to explain everytime that no she did this and that but THAT one was done by the other Melissa. We bought a couple of momentos that made us giggle and then walked through the windy little hidden garden round the back of the hotel (freight container) to go and have a drink in the pub. I had a hot blackcurrant YUM and Javi a delicious looking coffee, and we sat for a while admiring all the bits and bobs hung up on the walls and ceilings. It was your kind of very old, almost everything is made out of wood type place – not a lot/anything had been changed since it’d been built a looooong time ago and it was great that way. There was even a kind of brick shelter complete with roof, door and window inside the place right next to the bar that I wondered if they used as a stockroom nowadays. Above our heads was a line with about 15 bras hanging off it – we’d seen a few kms back at the entrance to a farm a huge long fence covered in bras so I asked the bar girl what it meant. She said it’s for breast cancer awareness and it used to be in the actual village but one person kept taking them down so the farmer up the road decided to put them all on his fence so they can’t be touched. Hehe. What I assumed would be a funny story was actually a pretty sweet one.
After that pit stop (thanks Ro) we carried on to Queenstown. As warned it took forever to park but we eventually expertly parked Joe in a car park under some trees on the side – everyone parks everywhere anyway and we still put a ticket in – $4 for 4 hours, pretty cheap we thought! We wandered into town and liked it instantly. Tons of shops with anything you could want, of course a huge mixture of tourists everywhere, great weather… we pretty much headed straight for the Skyline Gondola though, past all the enticing shops that we knew would be more expensive than in other towns. Up we went on our own little swing gondola – definitely the steepest one I’ve ever been on, maybe the one in Vietnam was longer but this one felt like we were going straight up. Once at the top we realised shorts were not appropriate as everyone was coming in from the outside platforms wrapped up and shivering! Well we went out anyway of course and used our prized posession the selfie stick to get some nice pictures. Along with the world and his wife haha but when you’re being a tourist who the hell cares. It’s just quite funny now it’s all sticks up high in the air, that’d make a great photo in itself! We wandered around at the top, watched people whizz past on the luge things and had a nice lunch of chicken and chips, and squid and chips (you can guess who had what) wondered about the Jellybeans fascination – they seemed to be stuck everywhere up there and they had a great smelling shop with every single flavour – before heading back down in the same gondola. The views of the whole town were quite breathtaking from up there and if it hadn’t been so icy windy I could have stood there and just looked for ages. But it was bloody freezing! And we look it in the photos haha.
When we got back down to town and out of the wind I wanted to head straight for the Shotover Jet booking office – this had been something I’d had on the list since a year ago so I was not going to be told there were no spaces! We successfully booked two seats for the next day and decided to walk along the beach. Coming from Bilbao it has taken some getting used to that all yhe beaches we’ve seen so far are lake beaches – so fresh water and not what I would think of as a proper beach, but of course they are. Just with ever so friendly/sometimes pushg ducks. You don’t have the rude British gulls here oh no, you get ducks coming up and fluttering their eyelashes. Or so you think.
We had a nice coffee – we’ll I’m on a chai latte a day here which I will issue when we’re back home – at a cute tiny little cafe on the beach, sitting in the hot sun without the wind was amazing. The views over the lake, with trees on the gravelly beach, were lovely too and everyone was just laying around in the sun very quiet and relaxed. When the sun started going down we’d already picked our campsite for the night and got going to Moke Lake, thanks to our great app Camping NZ which has all the sites from free to expensive and reviews from campers. It’s been our go to for places to stop. Now this Moke Lake was said to be down a gravel road that some reviewers had said to be very steep and windy and horrible but the majority of the other reviews said it was well worth it and such a beautiful place I’d decided we were going there anyway. Once we turned off the tarmac road yes we were on gravel but it was no problem for our Mercedes Sprinter and Joe did a great job. It was great fun to drive it to be honest too! We arrived to a very smiley lady who took $6 off each of us and told us where the loos and kitchen shelter was. After faffing about for a bit making sure we were parked on a flag surface we picked a spot near a stable with about 20 horses outside. We were on the lookout for sandflies as everyone and everything warns you about them and we expected them here by a lake but nope, not here! We did some hand washing and in a bit too cool a breeze hung it out on the fence. Right at home haha. As the sun was getting lower we went for a walk up and around the edge of the lake but dinnertime came around all too fast and we turned back to have beans on toast yum yum. First introduction to them for Javi… I assume he liked them as they were gone within seconds.