#That Wanaka Tree

Seda: Glow worms are another miracle of nature which can be seen in various caves around NZ. As with anything, there are guided tours you can pay for to see these amazing creatures at night but I’d read about Glow Worm Dell as a free cave where many people were lucky enough to see them. They should not really be photographed but clearly some people have, so here is one we stole from google…

Its proximity to Glow Worm Dell was the main reason why we stayed at the Links View Holiday Park but it turned out this place was a jolly good site anyway! Brand new facilities where the ends of the toilet paper were folded in a triangle, a common room with plush carpets and fancy ornaments, cooking areas both inside and outside with giant BBQs and seating areas. My man fitted right in to his new surroundings…

The owners are a lovely couple. Kevin kind of made it his job to entertain his guests and was very good at it. As we checked in, they kept telling us about an eel feeding session at 7pm and we were kind of looking at each other thinking “what the hell?!” But again, we were pleasantly surprised about how much fun feeding eels could be.

Kevin had prepared some meat pieces to put on the hook end of a long stick which was for us to hold over the water to tempt an eel with. I guess the eels were already seasoned at this game and before we knew it, most of us lost our piece of meat to them in the blink of an eye. Except Andy of course who was giving the eels a bit of a hard time. Receiving general compliments, my husband proudly turned to everyone and said “my fishing days seem to help”.

Kevin also takes everyone wishing to see the glow worms to Glow Worm Dell which was great for us. He does it because everyone individually wanting to go there in the evening causes too much light pollution and disturbance around the campsite apparently and also because he is a cool guy who likes doing nice things for people. There was a high demand that evening so kids and parents went first and we had to wait for the second trip to get there. When we eventually did, there were still too many of us for his 7 seater and I had to get very intimate with this Spanish woman during the 10 minute journey. Considering this is a free cave to go and see the glow worms it was very well maintained. We behaved ourselves and didn’t take any pictures. On the way back we were the last ones so Andy got in the front passanger seat and I sat on his lap. Kevin joked saying “I’d bet you didn’t do that in a while”.

We liked the place so much that we stayed for a second night which allowed us to have a wander around the nearby town of Hokitika…

The sofa is an amazing rock that’s been carved and painted

On our return, we took full advantage of the facilities at the campsite and had a good barbecue dinner which was great! We also had a lovely shower, wi-fi which actually worked and a great sleep. It’s sooo nice to find decent places like that because our next week would prove to be our most difficult yet!

Although it is a little bit inland, we had to see Hokitika Gorge the next morning. As we didn’t have any rain the days leading up to our visit, the colour of water wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been but was still amazing! Andy went to stand in the middle of the swing bridge and I stayed at the viewing point to take his picture.

No matter how patiently we waited, the guy in burgundy top would not move!

New Zealand is an amazing country which looks like nature’s playground to me. It’s been shaped by volcanos, earthquakes, oceans and glaciers. As we drove down the west coast, Franz Josef Glacier was within our reach. Once again, depending on how much money you want to splash here, your options to see the glacier includes a helicopter ride, helicopter-hike combo, charter plane or adventure packages. Alternatively you can take the free option and walk to the glacier like we did.

The viewing point was 2km away from the glacier edge and the information board showed us how much the glacier had receded over the years. It’s mind blowing how these enormous shapes can move mountains, create rivers and shape the earth. One thing that I’m a little disappointed about is that I didn’t get to fill my bottle up with glacier juice!

Even though we stayed in the area, we couldn’t do anything else during the following few days because of the endless rain. I’m glad we did the Franz Josef Glacier walk becuse we couldn’t see Fox Glacier even though we drove right by it! There isn’t much you can do in the rain with a sleeper car. You can stay in it all day or drive. After trying the first one for a whole day, we got itchy the next day and decided to drive off.

We took our chances and went to Lake Matheson with the hope that the rain would break for an hour or so but it started again as soon as we arrived. The clouds were so low, it was pretty much impossible to see anything higher than a metre.

Andy: The campsite we were heading for was a cheaper Department of Conservation (DOC) site called Pleasant Flat. Well, it sure was flat, but it really wasn’t very pleasant as we were getting eaten by sand flies which bite your ears, in between your fingers and the sides of your toes! In fact, anywhere that’s exposed for more than a few seconds! There was a huge battle to get in the car without letting them in and once we got in, we had to then kill the ones that managed to sneak through our defences. What a miserable evening. We drowned our sorrows with our recently purchased bottle of Brancott Estate wine and we thought we’d manage to get through the night. It turns out our adventures in this car weren’t over yet.

Seda: As the driver seat is only half way swivelled, there is a gap around the pedals from which we were hearing a lot of noise as we sat in bed. When we looked down all we saw was a cadbury wrapper moving around as if possessed?! I have to tell you, a million possibilities were going through my mind and scaring me after the previous incident. But it turns out it was only a cute mouse. Yes people, can you believe that there is a cute little mouse in this car running around on the driver side by the pedals. We named it Cadbury, after the wrapper he was carrying around with it. I keep joking with Andy saying Cadbury will nibble at his toes as he’s driving!

Andy spent the best part of the next hour trying to catch it by leaving some bread on the floor. He said the mouse was getting close to being caught but we just ended up feeding him nicely. Never mind, it is very cute and probably has even cuter babies to feed behind the dashboard somewhere.

Andy: The next day, we got back on the road and carried onto our next campsite via Haast Pass. It’s meant to be a really awesome drive through wonderful scenery, but due to the low lying clouds we got to see very little which was a huge shame. There was even the famous Haast Pass lookout post which we had to miss because there really wasn’t any point.

Seda: When the clouds finally started to lift a little, we stopped off at a place called Blue Pools. I cannot say the pools were blue but we were happy to see any colour other than cloud colour by this point!

We spent the next few days in Wanaka. It has no sand flies and loads to do! Instead of the horrible low clouds which we had experienced for the previous few days, there were some ornamental looking clouds hanging around purely to make our pictures prettier it seemed. I mean look at this photo and you decide…

Have you ever heard about “#ThatWanakaTree”? It’s the most photographed tree in NZ and has it’s own hashtag, Facebook and Instagram pages!

To enjoy Wanaka’s breathtaking views we checked into a campsite that held an amazing position and according to reviews had a specific spot called TV, “The View”. We asked for TV and luckily it was available so we had it. As we arrived in our prime position ready to make a cuppa, the heavens opened up once again. Knowing TV was ours now we took our car which is also our kitchen to the communal area to use their kettle and make our dinner under cover. It was a really good idea as there was no one around and we really enjoyed having everything nearby.

All the facilities were there also, so its become clear very quickly that what we needed was the ability to run into toilets in 10 seconds rather than having “The View” which was nowhere to be seen behind the clouds by this point. Believe me, there is nothing worse than needing to go to the toilet at night, in the rain! (As I’m writing this, it’s another rainy evening in New Zealand and I have been waiting for a 2 minute break for the last hour without any luck. This aspect of camping doesn’t feel like freedom at all!)

The sun was trying to break through in the morning which encouraged us to go and see more of this lovely town. As we did, the views were again breathtaking.

Wanaka is clearly very touristy which meant a bit of civilisation, loads of cafes, fancy bars and restaurants. It felt good to walk around the streets, have a little lunch and shop around for the best ice cream. On our return to the campsite, we cooked our meal at the quiet bbq area again with our home and kitchen by our side.

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