Leaving the Friendly Giants – Wanaka, Day 184

THE BLUE POOLS. Sunday afternoon Jeff let us borrow Pauline (his shiney red Mazda) to drive 45 minutes so we could see the Blue Pools. They were recommended to us by a bunch of locals and were supposed to be one of the coolest things to see in Wanaka (free things anyways). It was about a 15 min walk through the bush from the car park to the Pools but they were super cool! They are crystal clear and this amazing aqua colour. There’s a little stream that pours into them which was in the shade by the time we got to it that afternoon but if it had been in the sun I can only imagine what it would have looked like.  I don’t think I would have described it as the best thing to see in Wanaka but I think if the whole stream was lit up I might think differently.

On our way home we cruised back taking our time listening to some old favourite tunes with the windows down, sun shining, and mountains smiling at us. 

In the evening Jeff took us to his favourite cafe/restaurant Relishes for a farewell dinner (even though we would be with him for 2 more nights). We had wine that was Jeff’s pick – Mojo – with our main courses. Rach and Jeff both had the steak (I tried a piece of Rachel’s and it was cooked perfectly) and I had salmon on a bed of spinach… it might have been my favourite salmon dish.. ever? We were also spoiled with dessert – chocolate torte with raspberry sorbet. 

The next morning, Jeff took us literally across the country so we could dip our toes into the town of Dunedin. Dunedin is a really cool university town on the East Coast of the South Island, and seems like a lovely mix of trendy and student affordable.. it was weirdly comforting to see so many students again. The drive there was long but we stopped in cafes and little restaurants for coffees and paninis along the way. Our first order of business once we arrived in Dunedin was to drop Pauline off at Mazda Dealership to get serviced. In the meantime while they gave Pauline a little TLC, Rach drove us up the coast with a loner car to see the Albatross and Blue Penguin Peninsula and look out. We saw a few albatross but no little Blue penguins… oh well – it was still a nice sunny day to be near the water. After we got tired of squinting at the shoreline, we picked up Paulin and headed to a Tuscan-feeling Motel that I reserved some rooms in. (ENSUITE YES✔️) 

After we checked in, we took our time to freshen up and catch our breaths after our adventurous morning. We reconvened at quarter to seven to drop Jeff of for his date at 7:00. 

After Jeff was all set up with his date at the Asian Fusion restaurant, Rachel and I decided to take the opportunity to treat ourselves to some sushi because we haven’t had any since we left home! It wasn’t Taka Sushi (fav Japanese place at home) but it was enough to satisfy the craving. Also I tried octopus for the first time… can’t say I’m a fan but at least I can say I’ve had it. 

Jeff rang us about half past nine and we picked him up and went back to our little Motel. In the morning ,we slept in and then went for breakfast with Jeff and were pleasantly surprised with his date Kay, who  joined us. 

I really like Kay! She seems patient and very well traveled. Her and Jeff seem to get on very well with each other and it made my heart full watching the modest adorable side eye/ corner smiles that Kay and Jeff exchanged every now and then when the conversation lulled or one of them said something funny. 

After breakfast we said goodbye to Kay and then the three of us (Jeff, Rach and I) began our trip home to Wanaka. The trip going home was much much longer because Jeff liked to pull over and show us the his favourite little hidden gems that he didn’t want us to miss. This included checking out Port Chalmers (which is where we think our next WWOOF was – Jeff wanted to see a Look Out in the area), Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the WORLD, and a couple of quiet beautiful beaches that were along the way. 

When we got home it was almost 6pm. Not enough time to make Jeff one of our fancy dinners so we went through the fridge and pulled out odds and ends that were tasty.

Dinner finished and then Rachel said “so have you started packing yet”…

I don’t want to leave. It just hit me after this sentence/question that we have to go tomorrow. I am extremely fortunate that I have a bunch of amazing things to look forward to on this trip but it still  hurts my heart to leave this beautiful perfect charming town and say goodbye to Jeff. This is the hardest part of backpacking – falling in love …with the mountains, the cities, with the water, the charm, the variety of sparkling personalities that you encounter, … and then having to say goodbye. It’s like reading a fabulous book knowing that that there is a last page and that you will eventually reach it. You soak up every minute of the characters, their obsticales, the descriptive scenery and even though you are delighted that this story took such a hold on you and that you made it to the end of the book, you are sad because it’s over. Even if you read it again, it wouldn’t be the same. I don’t want to drive away from the friendly giants that cradle Wanaka or  hug Jeff goodbye but unfortunately we have reached the last page of our Wanaka chapter. While it’s sad to leave I am telling myself that when I come back, even if things are different – if the town changes, or people have moved away – I will always have read and fell in love with the Wanaka book.. at least once. 

Tomorrow morning we catch the Kiwi Experience Bus off to Queenstown. Queenstown is the biggest hype for young people in New Zealand – its outdoor/thrill/ adventure central. We are only going to be here for a couple of nights but I am excited to see what everyone is so drawn to out in that neck of the mountains (too high up for woods). 

Sending my love from an almost whole heart as I’m pretty sure I’m leaving some it here. ❤


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