Two types of trails

There are two types of trails that you can hike in this part of New Zealand. Those that go straight up and those that go straight down. Inevitably you have to hike both types to do any hike at all here.

After a very decadent and some may even call it gluttonous dinner last night, we were a bit slow in getting it going this morning. However, that was just fine with us because we had this absolutely amazing view to drink our coffee and stare at. The day looked spectacular. Sunny, warm, and a nearly cloudless sky.

Our plan was to head over to the hike the Ed had told had told us about (Rocky Mountain) and enjoy the views. We also had a wine tasting and a happy hour boat cruise around Lake Wanaka on the agenda. The stress of it all was getting to us.

We finally rolled out of the house around 10 and drove over to the trailhead. There were already quite a few cars there and we ended up parking on the highway. We grabbed our nice Leki poles and headed up the trail. The first part was a pretty gentle climb up to Diamond Lake. No big deal. Susanne was feeling good.

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Diamond Lake

We then hit the first steep sections, but they had built some nice stairs that made it pretty comfortable. The trail loops around the mountain and makes for a 7 km route with about 1500 feet of climbing. When we hit the split off, we decided to go clockwise, which is apparently the least traveled road.

The trail was narrow and quickly it became apparent that it simply was just climbing straight up and over several cliffs. Susanne said we were climbing a waterfall (see above). I was hard pressed to come up with a counter argument.

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The “easy” section

We made our way up over the first set of cliffs and came out of the trees where the views started to get really good. Even the easy sections were steep. It wasn’t very crowded as I think we took the less popular way to get to the top.

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Looking down on Lake Wanaka
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Happy hiker framed by Mt. Aspiring
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A big mound of Haast Schist

We took in the view and reveled in our good luck with weather so far this trip. The one “rain day” really didn’t affect us much and everything else has been fantastic!

We headed back down the trail on the other side. I commented to Susanne that it seemed “less steep.” Now, let’s put that in perspective. The way we came up was just climbing up a cliff. This was still probably a 40 degree slope with the occasional scrabble down a cliff, so “less steep” was a bit of a misnomer.

The view were great all the way down. Amazingly, there were people carrying their new born babies up the thing. Really?

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The “less steep” side

We ended up making pretty good time on the up and back: 2:37 minutes. This was good because we had an appointment for wine tasting at 2 and didn’t want to be late for that!

Turns out we had some extra time so we drove out toward Mt. Aspiring National Park to gets some views. We drove by Treble Cone ski area. The road up to it looked somewhat terrifying and Susanne quite unambiguously stated her lack of interest in driving up there. I complied.

There were tons of deer farms out along the road.

We turned around and headed toward the winery. We punched in our code at the gate and drove up the dirt road to a big, very nice looking building. It was an incredible location. Vines, mountains, glaciers, lakes — all in one spot.

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Greatest view from a winery ever

We milled about and waited for the tasting to start. Some people we passed on the trail were there too. We chatted with them for a bit. They were Canadians now living in Singapore.

We started tasting the wine and the very friendly host told us about the history of the winery and walked us through the wines. At one point she was talking about how the mineral flavor of the wine came from the schist that created the soil. She then asked, mostly expecting no one to know, if we knew what schist was. Little did she know she had a geologist in the crowd. I gave her some additional tidbits to impress future visitors.

Then she told us it was a biodynamic vineyard and asked me if I knew what that was. I said it was a more robust form of organic farming with a dose of woo-woo. I do not think that she appreciated my woo-woo comment. Especially after she told everyone about the ritual of burying cow horns full of manure and spreading it around the fields while chanting. What points I had gained with my knowledge of schist were quickly erased by my lack of respect for buried cow horns full of manure. In any case, the wine was good.

We finished up our wine tasting and headed back to the house to clean up and get ready for our happy hour cruise around the lake. It was quite hot and we were hiding from the sun as we waited for the boat. The wind was non-existent. The boat showed up and 14 of us piled aboard for the cruise. We went up to the top deck and enjoyed the views with our glass of wine. It was a very pleasant and zen-like trip. Nothing too exciting, just really relaxing.

We scoped out all the houses along the shore that we were going to buy and continued to formulate our plans to move to New Zealand.

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Scoping our future house

After the cruise we headed back to the house and had a nice tapas dinner on the deck and watched the sun set and the stars come out.

Another wonderful day

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A beautiful end to a wonderful day






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