Beautiful beautiful Wanaka.
We arrived in Wanaka 2 nights ago via Kiwi Bus. The drive here was moody and misty and utterly damp. The mountains peaked and pierced clouds occasionally but were mainly shy and cuddled themselves in the low clouds. Our first night we stayed in a hostel, Lake Hawea Hostel. Nothing too special about this hostel.. it was pretty basic the only awesome thing about it was that it had a nice view of Lake Hawea (sister lake of Lake Wanaka).
Jeff, our new WWOOF host picked us up just after 10 yesterday morning with another sweet Brit WWOOFer, Christie. When we got to the property I think I had to literally hold my hand under my chin to avoid dragging my jaw on the ground. Jeff has a bungalow with a perfect sized yard beside it. His style is a great combination of modern and shabby chic and is beautifully decorated with all things he loves, including planes, farming, and literature. The best part (I think) are these amazing big picture windows that allow everyone inside a clear view of the mountains – there are even some snow caps in the distance!
Jeff is a divorced 73 year old who lives on his own out in Wanaka. He loves having WWOOFers to help out with tasks around the house like cooking, some weeding, compost, but mostly he enjoys the company, conversation, and exchange of stories.
Yesterday was a pretty relaxed day – Christie only arrived the day before we did and so we spent a majority of the day familiarizing ourselves with our tasks and the property. We enjoyed a nice pasta dinner and a gorgeous walk along the lakeside as we watched the sun dance down the sky and in behind the mountains.
Today we literally lived a movie- I’m still reeling in my head! The four of us had a nice breakfast and then we dropped Jeff off at a quick doctors appointment. Post appointment Jeff suggested a picnic. In my mind I’m thinking like sammies out on a picnic table mid town, maybe on the lake front or something. Nope.
I packed the cooler as per Jeffs instructions; all the stuff to make a damn fine sandwich, fresh kaisers, white wine, grapes, blueberry muffins, cheeses, etc. We loaded in a table and some camping chairs and hopped in Jeff’s van to go what I thought would be 10 mins down the road. 45(ish) minutes later we arrived at our spot. I spent the entire time seat dancing (as best you can in a seatbelt) to a bunch of oldies Jeff had selected for our journey and gawking at the mountains. We drove right up beside them, through valleys and streams, and along gravelly off-road paths until we came to a quaint quiet spot in the middle of the valley. We parked the car beside the small stream and just had probably the most charming picnic I have ever had.
It was like driving through a photograph.
When we got home we relaxed a bit and watered the plants. For dinner Christie Rachel and I teamed up to make an incredibly satisfying dinner of lamb chops, cauliflower mash, potatoes, and peas! Rach manned the barbi while Christie and I worked inside. We ate out on the patio and soaked up the last few rays of the day. I am one lucky lucky gal.
Here comes the mush: you ready?
I am quite taken with Wanaka. The Swiss Alps were breathtaking, the radical hills (though I’m going to call them mountains because they certainly felt like mountains when I was climbing them) of the Cinque Terre were challenging and beautiful.. but there is this magical energy about Wanaka I find hard to put words to. A song played in the car today during our drive to our picnic fantasy, a classic by Boston called More Than A Feeling and I couldn’t help but think the attraction I have to this wee charming town and mountainous view is more than a feeling indeed (nothing else in the song applied to this connection other than it’s just a good tune). The mountains hug the town and give this lasting impression of protection that I find myself drawn to. The town is big enough to feel like there is actual human life residing nearby (seriously, in some ‘towns’ in NZ I half expect tumbleweed to blow past) and small enough to see a knitted community.
Sitting out in the valley today I felt so humbled. These mountains have a way of making you feel big because you were able to find your way to them and you’re one of the lucky ones who get to stand in front of them and think WOW. But they also have this incredible power to make you feel small. Without sounding like a pessismist, standing next to these beasts makes you realize how little you are – in the world, in life, even in the already small town. These mountains have been here many years before me and will be here many years after me. That’s me feeling small. But it’s humbling. It’s a rather special feeling where you are grateful, meditative and just blown away by Mumma Nature’s capabilities and the magical landscapes she has created/will continue to create. While this is not a town I could see myself living in, I am completely captivated by it and plan to make the absolute most of my time here. I hope to savour and experience more of these moments. ❤
Sending love from a slice of heaven out here in the mountains. Xxx