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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 254: Franz Josef to Wanaka

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 16 July 2008 | Views [1450]

Cool shapes at Lake Paringa

Cool shapes at Lake Paringa

Wednesday 16th July

Danika and I got our stuff together and left Franz Josef with Mark on our tail, as we were all making a move towards the town of Wanaka, situated about three hours drive south of Franz Josef. We had heard from various people that this was the drive in all of New Zealand, as we were to pass through some quite diverse countryside, but always be in the shadow of the powerful and beautiful snow-capped mountains. The weather wasn't so good, but we were grateful that it at least wasn't raining.

We expected to pull over on quite a few occasions to take pictures of the countryside, and our first stop was at Lake Matheson which is a famous location for the reflection of Mounts Cook and Tasman on the surface of this 'mirror lake'. Unfortunately, the mirror must have been broken, because the view wasn't exactly what they had advertised in the brochure, so to speak. It was still a very impressive sight, just not as good as it could have been.

While Lake Matheson didn't do much to impress, the images that were created by the reflections on Lake Paringa were exceptional, with the long, thin, low lying cloud sitting just above the lake, creating some really cool shapes, which were then inverted by the reflection of the lake. I managed to get some good photos but the sandflies forced us back into the car and we set off again.

We stopped for a lunch break in the small town of Haast, located at the foot of the Southern Alps, and the point at which the road takes an eastward turn across the mountains. It was also the point at which the scenery started to get serious. We were surrounded by mountains on either side of the road, our little white hunk of shit car dwarfed by these white-capped monsters as we snaked our way along the Haast Pass. Lake Wanaka came into view and we stopped for more photos.

I had never really given too much consideration to why New Zealand is called Aoteora, Maori for 'The Land of the Long White Cloud', but it was at this spot that the notion sunk in: across the water, we could see a mountain range with one long continuous cloud sitting at mid-height. The blue sky made this look even more emphatic.

We got back in the car and passed over another hill and were greeted with another breath-taking sight: Lake Hawea and Mt. Melina in the distance. As we drove along the road that sticks closely to the outline of the shore of Lake Hawea, we could see more mountain ranges and long white clouds. It was absolutely stunning and I felt extremely lucky to be getting the chance to see this in the flesh. There aren't many photos that can do this kind of sight much justice at all.

The last bit of the journey was a gentle drive into Wanaka, and what looked like a busy alpine resort. We checked into 'The Purple Cow' hostel which is situated overlooking Lake Wanaka and the mountains in the distance, and met Danika's friend Amanda, who I had last seen at the hostel in Auckland over three weeks previously.

After Mark and I went food shopping and made dinner, we took a walk about town to check it out and we stumbled across a decent internet cafe and we spent an hour or so sending off a few emails. We returned to the hostel and played a few games of ping-pong and I discovered that the cast on my hand had given me extra strengths and abilities at the game. I could actually play half decently and it was good fun.


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