Yes, today’s entry will be more of a travelogue and I’ll get back to some beautiful pictures in the near future.
This past weekend, we drove to Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka and home. The weather wasn’t all that pleasant, especially during Friday’s driving, but it slowly improved.
Arrowtown is a small, historic mining town a few kilometers northeast of Queenstown (and, Queenstown is about two hours north of Invercargill, in the mountains). Arrowtown is definitely some place that we want to return, particularly in the austral autumn. We ate at a fun place (Mondo’s Café) that we’d love to visit again. The main area of town is small and quaint, and the area is surrounded by the Crown Range on the northeast.
On Saturday, we drove over to Cromwell and ate breakfast in a coffee shop. Cromwell seems to be a fruit and vegetable growing region, particularly for fruit trees such as apples, pears and the like. Our weather was a bit overcast, but Cromwell is a pleasant town that I hope we’ll visit again when the weather is more pleasant. Cromwell sits on the shores of Lake Dunstan and it must be spectacular to look over this valley from some altitude! After breakfast, we drove up the Clutha River Valley and the beautiful views across the Valley to the Dunstan Range, with the Pisa Range on our left. There were many orchards as we entered and left Cromwell, and the further that we drove from Cromwell, the more sheep that we saw. Did we mention that it’s lambing season here?
Since the weather was less than wonderful on Saturday, we visited Puzzling World just east of Wanaka. I have to say that I’m not the kind of person who appreciates the normal touristy things (a.k.a., “tourist traps”) that other people enjoy, particularly in places like the Wisconsin Dells, but I did enjoy Puzzling World. First, there was a large maze that we visited. We spent at least an hour “lost” within it, and enjoyed ourselves. I’m also happy to write that I’m the only mouse who earned the cheese! Asta, Aras and Julija bailed out via an emergency exit, while I suffered through ‘til the end! Inside of Puzzling World there was a variety of visual and physical puzzles – oddly tilted rooms, the Ames Room, holograms, and art by some of my favorite artists like M.C. Escher, Rob Gonsalves and Patrick Hughes (I really like Hughes’ work! It’s inspired me since I first saw a couple of his pieces in San Francisco several years ago).
After Puzzling World, we finally made it to Wanaka and it’s one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited! (I think that I said the same thing about Queenstown.) Another beautiful town located along a lake (Lake Wanaka) and surrounded by mountains. One of the many highlights of the weekend (at least for me) was finally being able to watch the New Zealand national rugby team, The All Blacks, play. The All Blacks are to New Zealand what da Packers are to Wisconsin, so you get the point. I hardly understand rugby – all of it’s nuances, etc. – but my favorite part is the haka. This next link is to the haka from the September 15th, 2012 match against South Africa, which the All Blacks won (I smile every time I watch that video!). (As a side note, I do believe that the Green Bay Packers could benefit from their own haka; it’s pretty easy to imagine Clay Matthews taking the lead!) The Wanaka area and Mt. Aspiring National Park will be a wonderful area to visit (many times?) this coming summer.
Finally, on Sunday, we ventured to the Cardrona Ski Area that’s about an hour away from Wanaka. I enjoyed Cardrona much more than The Remarkables – I even skied this time! The weather was warm, the sun was shining and clouds were blowing through from time to time. I was feeling pretty good until Julija started skiing circles around me! The drive from Cardrona to Queenstown was absolutely gorgeous, via the Crown Range Road. We’re looking forward to taking this drive again during the summer months.
OK, that’s all for now. It’s time to get back to reality – picking up the kids from school and planning our next trip around beautiful New Zealand.