Sun 23 Nov: After several great days in Fiordland it was time to leave. We set off from Manapouri relatively early and stopped in Te Anau for petrol. We found the best pie shop we’d been to so far on the trip and sampled venison and mint lamb pies, as well as a cornish pasty.
Suitably sated and we found ourselves retracing our steps towards Kingston. Inevitably we ran into the Kingston Flyer again, this time as it was setting off from Kingston, and Rita got some video of it.
We pushed on towards Wanaka, past Arrowtown, which is a historic mining town. After a wrong turn which meant we drove almost all the way into Arrowtown, then out again without actually seeing it, we took a slight detour over a lovely, hilly road, full of hairpin bends and spectacular views. It was a really nice drive. In fact the only problem was that the hills meant radio reception was awful. But since we were so busy looking at the views, that was no real hardship.
Wanaka itself was a pleasant town alongside a nice lake. We took another slight detour here to go to Rippon winery. Since I was driving, the onerous task of trying out the local wines fell to Rita – it’s a tough job but someone had to do it. Since we knew we were going to be driving through the region, we’d made a point of looking for a Rippon wine at the Te Anau supermarket that morning, and we’d spotted a white wine, an Osteiner, a grape I’d not heard of. Now Rita was lucky enough to try it, along with a sauvignon blanc, a Riesling and 2 Pinot Noirs. We ended up buying the Osteiner, so at least I got to try it later on, and I have to say it was very good.
From there we headed on past Lake Hawea and up to Makarora where there was a holiday park. Actually this holiday park was the centre of some adventure tour operators, who combine flights in a small plane, with camping, hiking, white water rafting and cycling. They’ve got a variety of different alternatives and durations, and half the guys working there seemed to be British. We had a couple of beers sitting outside the bar listening to an English guy and a Scot talking about fishing. They’d both obviously spent a fair amount of time living in New Zealand, and it was interesting to find out something about a sport about which I know very little.
The weather was detiorating and it looked as though our good fortune was about to run out. We were to find out how much it had run out when we set off the following morning.