I would love to tell you all that I accidentally fell into an alternate dimension where time works differently, and that for me it really has been only a few days since my last post. I’d be lying. In my defence, I really did think that I’d already written the Wanaka and Queenstown post… oops?
It almost seems a bit silly now to go back and tell you about places I visited in April. Luckily, I hadn’t yet got around to moving the pictures from that stage of my trip off my phone and onto my Cloud storage, so I can still show you. This post isn’t going to go into the depth of detail about Wanaka and Queenstown as my older posts did, purely because it’s quite hard to remember. I did keep my travel journal up to date, thankfully. Also, I’ll hopefully be heading back down South with Mum and Dad when they come to visit, so you might (might!) get some more detail then.
So, how have things been in the meantime? Well, I’m still in Wellington, and still enjoying living here. I have a flat with a lovely housemate (she’s studying opposite me at the dining table right now, in fact. Hi, Michaela!), and I’m currently on my second job. The joy of temporary positions means I can get a decent wage and do something that might actually look good on my CV later on. Both jobs I’ve had so far have been in the public sector, very different experiences to my other work history. I’ve been very lucky to have found friendly colleagues in both places, and have made some wonderful friends. My next blog post, whenever that is, will be all about Wellington, my experiences here, and some of the many things I’ve done.
I’m in the process of planning a few long weekends to see different parts of the North Island, and have just booked a trip to Auckland and the Bay of Islands in December. Although I haven’t travelled for the last four months almost, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the North Island has to offer now that we are coming out of Winter and heading towards Spring. If you’re lucky, I’ll do those blog posts less than three months later. But for now, only four months behind schedule, Wanaka and Queenstown…
Wanaka is possibly my favourite of the places I’ve visited so far in New Zealand. Partly because I got very lucky with the weather and the time of year that I visited, but also just because it’s a lovely little lake-front town that draws you in and makes you want to stay there. It’s Lord of the Rings country, and you can tell. This was the first time I actually felt like that. It feels like it could be Laketown (which it isn’t, but that is not the point), you look up and around and feel like you’re in Rohan, and the sunset behind the Southern Alps (AKA the Misty Mountains) is incredible. The picture I managed to get of the sunset could pass for Mordor, too, really.
It is a bit of a tourist town, though much less so than Queenstown. There are quite a few bars and restaurants on the lake that the locals probably don’t visit very often, but there’s also a fantastic ice cream parlour that probably wouldn’t be there without the tourists, so swings and roundabouts!
The journey from the glaciers through the Haast Pass is beautiful, with some of the most amazing views you could wish for. I have to say, though, that I was glad to be on a bus and not driving. Especially when the bus driver tells you about the risk of land slips and rock falls on that particular stretch of road. Yikes! We stopped off along the way at a couple of view points and a waterfall. If you’re driving, there are many other places you can stop and walk, or just take in the scenery (park safely, don’t block the roads!).
A few minutes’ drive from Wanaka town centre, or a 30 minute walk if you’re me, is Puzzling World. It is almost exactly what it sounds like – a “house of illusions” inside, showing some excellent, mind-bending displays (if you like Escher, you’ll love it), then a giant outdoor 3D maze, with stairs and bridges and four towers that you have to climb. Yes, I did get lost in the maze, and yes, it did take about twice as long as it says it does. But it was fun, so there. There were a lot of outdoor sculptures ideal for taking that forced perspective picture you always wanted, but I was by myself and too chicken to ask someone to take one.
Then there’s the tree. You know, #thatwanakatree. I’m not really sure why it became a thing, to take a picture of a tree by the edge of the lake. It’s a very lonely tree, I can only assume that it must feel ostracised by the other trees and that people felt sorry for it. Seriously, though, it’s impossible to take a bad picture of that tree.
I visited Wanaka in Autumn. The colours were just beautiful, and I couldn’t imagine a better time of year to go. It was exactly what you think of when you think of Autumn – sunny, just warm enough, orange and brown leaves on the trees and crunching underfoot. 10/10 would recommend.
After a few days in Wanaka, it was time to head on to Queenstown, the last stop on my trip around the South Island. There were more places I wish I could have visited, but it was time to head North and find a job for the winter. Honestly, by the time I reached Queenstown, I was quite overwhelmed with travelling, and was ready to settle down in one place for a few months. I’m not sure if this meant that I didn’t enjoy Queenstown as much as I could have, but I do think that it’s the kind of place that is wasted on a single, anti-social traveller. Best to see it with others, or, if you’re a bit more gregarious, willing to do crazy things by yourself. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I just could have done more with my time.
The highlight of my stop in Queenstown was the Skyline. Not the actual cable car part, that was less fun. As it was quiet at that time, they put me in a cable car by myself. Not the best experience when you’re not good with heights and it’s a bloody long way up from the bottom of the hill. Journey aside, the views from the top are spectacular. I even bucked up my courage to ask someone to take a picture of me to prove I made it up to the top. I didn’t do the luge or the bungy though, #sorrynotsorry.
There are a lot of things to do in Queenstown, if you have the time and the money. I really did not do it justice, but I’d love to go back (not by myself this time) and do more. There were so many places to eat, to visit just a short drive away, or just to go for another walk around the big park (maybe even play a bit of frisbee golf!). Of course, it is a bit of a party town, and I am not a partier, so maybe that’s the problem.
Signing off here, so that I can actually get this posted. Before I go, though, I thought I would take this moment to celebrate the fact that it is six months today since I left the UK. Holy smokes! It has absolutely flown by, but I can appreciate how much has happened in those six months. I’m actually quite proud of myself for making it this far with only a few minor meltdowns. Let’s see what the next six months bring.
Postscript: You may want to mark this day in your calendars, I just said I was proud of myself.
What next? Wellington
When will that be? Who knows?!