We spent 2 nights at Lake Wanaka, and more importantly, Sunshine did not move once during our stay. That alone makes this segment of our trip the most “Kiwi” we have experienced.
For when you are campervaning, it’s easy to tell the transient tourists with their new, rental campervans from the Kiwi families who have parked their caravan and set roots in their spot. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’ve been there a week, month, or longer (as some of the 70’s vans truly look like they haven’t moved since they were first planted there) and some of the setups look like small villages, with tents 3 rooms long connected with a gazebo, then a caravan, multiple bikes strewn around, and a grill, awning, and outdoor area well established (sometimes with a boat, too). I’m never quite sure if these are for one large family or multiple families, since oftentimes children will pile out (like clowns from a car) and it makes me hope there is more than one mom in there. Makes me tired just thinking about it, actually.
So, of course, for our first afternoon we read and fished, and then watched the families around us as we cooked and ate dinner. Note: For those of you asking for the fish pictures, we haven’t caught any yet. Whether that’s due to our non-ideal midday fishing times, the unusually high river/lake levels, the didymo (algae) decimating the South Island lakes and rivers, I don’t know. For fisherman stick together, and all the ones that pass us seem to agree that “nothing’s biting.” Truth? Fisherman’s tale? I don’t much care, as long as they are happy. And they all seem to be. [Latebreaking news: Two undersized rainbow trout were just caught and returned. Progress!]
The next day we joined the Kiwi fray and did something active…for truly, if you want to find tourists, look in the shops in town, but if you want to find Kiwis in their natural habitat (the people, not the birds) look on the tramp and cycle paths, boats, or anywhere active. That’s where they’ll be. So…when in Rome…we got active! We mountain biked around the coast of the lake to Wanaka for a leisurely lunch. Then we shopped (for we are tourists, as much as we hate to admit it), chilled by the lake for a bit, and stocked up on groceries, before cycling back to our campsite trying to soak in as much of the beautiful view of the lake and Mount Aspiring as we could along the way. We patted ourselves on the back for a job well done and then promptly relaxed the remainder of the evening (we would hate to overexert ourselves!). We also realized how much more enjoyable Wanaka was when seeing it by foot or bike than by the “drive by” experience that would have been easy to do. I can see why many Kiwis vacation there, and how it is fairly easy to just ignore the tourists.
So that pretty much sums up our time in Wanaka. We would have stayed longer but…you guessed it…bad weather sent us heading on our way early the next morning…
And it’s at this point that we’d like to say thanks to Ann and Vern for letting us borrow their fishing gear and cooler (both have been used extensively!) and to Graham and Clio for helping us make mosquito netting for Sunshine. All of these have been invaluable for our campervaning adventures!
And KBG, you had asked how we like campervaning. WE LOVE IT! It doesn’t get much better than having food, toilet, shower, and bed with us wherever we go! (KFN, you may want to look into adding one of these to your repertoire!) Sunshine is a 2005 Mercedes Benz Sprinter and she is the the perfect size, ie, big enough to be functional, but small enough to handle these roads without difficulty. And given the weather conditions on this trip, the flexibility that campervaning allows has been a real asset. We will certainly do it again. We haven’t been able to camp as freely as we thought we would, due to new regulations in New Zealand forbidding freedom camping in certain places, but as it turned out, it was nice to be able to have bigger showers and plug into electricity at the campsites. (For my IT support guru needs power for his myriad of chargers and whatnot. I swear, it’s like James Bond threw up in here, we have so many gadgets!)
And along with campervaning, comes the camping atmosphere. I love the energy at campsites. From the simple interactions of chatting while borrowing a hose adapter from a neighboring Dutch camper, or lending a hose to our Brazilian neighbor, to being awoken to a chorus of (bad) singing from a Kiwi campsite across the way (it was so bad I couldn’t even tell what song it was, but man were they happy singing it!), it’s all these interactions that add to the trip. We’ve had a blast.