Up and over

By morning the wind had moderated and the tandem paragliders were out in full force. We watched as we packed up the car and planned our day’s drive, a relatively short run to Wanaka over our first mountain pass of the trip.

First we stopped at the quaint village of Arrowtown, looking exactly like any charming 19th century settlement in the Colorado Rockies. We’d read about a place that made bagels and cinnamon buns and that’s speaking our language so of course we made the short detour for brunch. We ate fresh toasted bagels and shared a plum and basil focaccia and Jack had a sticky bun. No wonder we pack on the pounds when we go on a road trip. 

Just outside town we climbed the steep switchback road over the Crown Range with more spectacular long-distance views. It’s been a long time since our eyes could focus on such distances except for the horizon at sea and we paused frequently to drink it all in. 

On the other side of the mountains we drove through sheep and dairy farms. Dairy and beef cows are gaining on the traditional sheep farming in New Zealand, so we saw far fewer sheep than we expected the whole time we were in the South Island. In fact I think we saw bigger sheep herds last year in the North Island than we did here. 

Near Cardrona we stopped for the bra fence, an ever growing collection of over-the-shoulder boulder holders, most of which have been signed by the owner with date and national origin, and offered up for breast cancer awareness. We were happy to make a donation and of course Jack had to do his own research on type, color and size. No conclusions; more research required.

We ended the day in Wanaka, a smaller, quieter version of Queenstown with a similar roster of thrill rides and concessions. It was just a convenient overnight for us in preparation for a long day of mountain touring to come. Our lodging was our favorite of the whole trip, a huge self-contained unit with cathedral ceiling, a well-equipped kitchen, a comfy sectional sofa, a balcony with a mountain view and a big bathroom with a great shower. All that space is a luxury for boat-dwellers and we cooked dinner “at home” and spent the evening watching TV on the sofa.  

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