Wanaka Binnaca

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We rejoin our heroes in Wanaka, a small town about an hour north of Queenstown where skiing, biking, canyoning, trailing, and lake activities reign supreme. After the work of the Routeburn, this little oasis on the lake was a breath of fresh air (hence the title). En route we took a really steep road, were hitting the E on our gas gauge, and running the heat because the engine temperature was getting dangerously high. All part of the adventure I suppose. We got here late because we’d been out to luge in Queenstown which hadn’t been in the itinerary, and ran to the grocery store to get dinner and some wine. Brad, Chris, and I decided to do a boxed-wine night and we came back, had a chicken salad dinner which was actually pretty darned good, and then played charades in the hostel’s grass. I was on a team with Katie, Lauren C, Chelsea, and Brad and we did pretty well I thought. Chris, who was on the other team, was very far along through his wine and definitely feeling it. Roaring drunk and hilarious as heck. We got asked to be quieter and/or move the game inside and decided that it was bed time, so we had Chris drink some water and all retired… until I was awakened at 3 AM by a strange sound and screaming.

Well, okay, no screaming. But it sounded like water falling. And then Amy asked, “What the #$# is that?” in a tired and annoyed voice and then chunks began hitting the liquid and she realized about a second before me that Chris was pouring out wine and salad or, as Norm would put it, calling for Ruth. Him being on the top bunk, this was particularly troublesome for Brad below him, though Brad slept through it. Amy tried to get Chris to use the bowl, but alas. It was too late. The room instantly stunk, and more rancid than anything I have ever experienced – and I’ve worked in a bar. It was gagging us all and Meridith and Amy fled to other rooms. I woke up Brad because his face was maybe 20 cm from a puddle of vomit on his mattress and his hand just as close. Brad was suitably thankful. I had no choice but to sleep in the room so I did my best to clean up without getting touching or inhaling or in any way looking at it. In other words I used a ladle and looked the other way and then threw a sheet on it, opened the windows, and hoped the smell would be trapped.

The next morning came all too soon although it was nice to get out of that room. Chris had no idea he’d thrown up at all and didn’t have the hangover he so deserved. I guess because it all wound up on the floor. He had more cleaning and a tongue-lashing from the hostel owner, though and apologized profusely to all. We left early for some mountain biking which was essentially a long drive up the mountain and then coasting down some really dusty and loose dust. I picked the ghetto bike which would drop the chain if I even thought about changing gears. Luckily it was mostly downhill, so this wasn’t an issue. The view was nice, the guides were terrific, but the trail needed a rain badly. I did enjoy myself quite a bit, however, and definitely have to give Dan and Paul a hearty recommend. By next year they’re going to have a bunch of new trails open and it should be a biker’s dream here in Wanaka.

Afterwards, Brad, Chris, and I went for lunch and forced Brad to choose the venue. In the end it was gyros and we sat on a bench overlooking the lake and ate. Then we sat on the beach with some of the others, went for a swim, and Brad everyone dispersed when Katie left to take the students to class. I spent some long-overdue internet time, then I came back and grabbed dinner with the group at Speight’s – which had pretty decent prices for the portions they were serving – and we all had some drinks while we waited for tables. We finally had dinner (which was great but really filling) and then back to the hostel. We talked about doing a Routeburn commercial as though it were some sort of disease before heading out for a midnight swim. As the swim went on and the ranks faded, some of the remaining people decided on a skinnydip in the cool night before going home and to bed.

The next day was a free day which meant I slept in until almost 9:00. I guess I’m on an early-wakeup schedule. I had wanted to go canyoning, but it’s really overpriced here. So I spent some more time getting caught up on the journal/blog and talking with Norm about a nearby canyon. He found out it was only 20 minutes away and as most of the others had gone to the beach and I was interested in spending some time in a canyon anyway, he took Anthony and myself to check it out for Dave. And it was a definite find. We’d gotten there because Norm had made friends with Lisa, the head waitress from the night prior, and she’d told him about the spot. So it was pretty much a bunch of locals and us. I took the first turn jumping from the cliffs into the canyon and then Anthony followed and then Norm. The jumps were maybe 7-9 metres high and refreshing on such a hot day. Anthony and I made our way up the canyon, crawling through caves, and finally getting to a point where we had to stop going up the canyon. Then we turned around and made our way back, sometimes crawling on our hands, sometimes just flowing in the current, and in one case, I tried to stop myself but slowly lost my grip and went over a small fall, the water took me back-first into a boulder which didn’t hurt me more than a bruise but sadly scratched the heck out of my watch face. Hopefully I can get it fixed.

We came back to the hostel after a few more jumps and had a group meeting where we talked about things bothering us, positive comments, and then highlights. Aw, and don’t we all feel better. It was sort of neat though, because it reminded us of all the cool things we’ve done. It’s easy to lose perspective sometimes. Then, after the meeting, about 10 of us went mountain biking again, but this time in the forest. Dan and Paul took us out of the goodness of their hearts and it was really cool of them. We only paid $25 and got a great deal, mountain biking through the trees and in some really cool trails was amazing. Plus, there was up and down hill and it was a terrific workout. After the bike, we went to the beach as the sun disappeared behind a mountain, and Paul came by and took us in threes on his catamaran. I went with Chris and Kate and we actually got some good speed up not to mention a full float out of the water. We also jumped off of the pier before heading back.

Dinner was waiting for us, and it was a baked potato bar and delicious dessert. We sat around in the kitchen afterwards, Norm was showing us Cirque du Soleil things, Chris got a heart shaved in his head, I did a couple slideshows, girls pierced each others ears (we’re expecting complaining and infections any time now), and we hung around and enjoyed ourselves. We met some Sydney guys and I chatted with a girl from Holland, and then we called it a night. After all, I’m supposed to be making French Toast for breakfast tomorrow so I have to wake up extra early. Coming up next, Franz Josef glacier and some ice climbing adventure.

Wanaka Photos


Mariah said...

hey dean check your email ok we left you two. Love ya

b-rad said...

id like to go back... back to the coast line

Dean said...

Hey Mariah, hope you got my email by now. And B-Rad, there's plenty of coast down in S. America, no?? Still in the cards?