I had my last night in Dunedin with Claudia, T and James (the latter two being the guys I met on the boat in Whitsundays). ‘Dunny’ was now a tad better as they managed to take us to a lovely little bar tucked round the back of a car park, with one of the best barman I’ve ever had serve me – very knowledgable about all the booze served, a toasty warm fire, and what could get better? Well James, a recently quit student bought a $130 bottle of Champers to sup. Yes, even better.
The next day I undertook the ‘you could easily do that in a day’ drive from Dunedin to Fox Glacier. But I didn’t leave until 11am. I’ve found that any Kiwi’s driving time estimates have to have a third to half added on when travelling in tourist mode. Anyhoo, the drive through Central Otago was cracking – wall to wall, or farm to farm fruit farms and fantastic rocky scenery when you got around Cromwell. I bombed through though. Heading over to Wanaka was a superb little stint, and when I arrived there I felt like I just got back home again. I was so tempted to hang around a couple more days there. The fantastic Earth From Above exhibition was still on along the lakeside (I saw this a good few years ago in Krakow, Poland – google it, it’s amazing).
Reluctantly I pushed on, and never looked through any more estate agent windows. I did however stupidly glance in a clothing shop window and bought a lovely ‘Pure Local’ NZ Hoody. One of the classier tourist tops you can buy! So my quick stop proved to be expensive.
(Picture : Lake Hawea) The drive from Wanaka over the Haast Pass was again super scenic – actually seeing the rest of Lake Wanaka was impressive, and Lake Hawea next to that was one of the nicest I’ve seen in NZ.
As per the usual driving estimates I had considered staying in Wanaka to avoid driving in the dark, but pushed on. I ended up crashing on the western edge of the Haast Pass at a nice quiet basic Pleasant Flat DOC campsite as darkness loomed. I was quickly joined by a Hiking New Zealand minibus. Unlike meeting a Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus, the chat was good – diving, outdoors work, international folk and they invited me to join them around their open fire under the natural disco lights (stars) – the clearest view I’ve seen yet.
(Pictures : My car and the Hiking New Zealand van and tents, and the crystal clear river next to the campsite)