Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19th, 2009 - Fox Glacier, New Zealand to Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

The glacial valley and remaining lake at Wanaka was never really a settlement for the Maori. It was more of a stopover hunting and fishing grounds as well as a place to find greenstone left by the pressure that created the mountains. In fact, the road into Wanaka from the west was only sealed in the 1980's. Today it's a town that reminded me a lot of Telluride, a valley with high peaks all around and a population based around summer and winter recreation. The main difference is its location right on the shores of Lake Wanaka and with Lake Haewa left by another leg of the same glacier just over the hill. Otherwise, the streets lined with gear shops, bars and restaurants, plentiful condo complexes and seasonal rentals and a natural but well maintained greenway beside a river really felt like Colorado.

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

We finally had a free night where we could explore a town a little and get dinner on our own. For some reason, all the shops close by 5:30 so after a couple laps around the center of town, we found an outside table in front of the Speight's Alehouse with a perfect sunset view of the lake and mountains behind. It was great to finally be able to just sit in a town and watch how it worked. There were plenty of locals out partaking in what has been described as a binge drinking scene along with bands of American college students “drinking in the local culture.” Wanaka was one of the first towns where it would really be easy to see ourselves living, and we discussed what we would be doing the next day if we had an indefinite amount of time to stay. Ann's going to head by the local hotels and spas to see about getting some bookings, and I think I'll look into the possibility of teaching some waterskiing in between brainstorming sessions on my upcoming Pulitzer-eligible adventure travel book.

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