Posted by: The Travelling Mallorys | February 28, 2011

Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacer and the frozen West Coast

Last time you heard from us we were waiting to get into our Wanaka room having just jumped off the bus from Queenstown. The bus ride had been fun – our comedy Scottish driver kept us entertained and the bus had no heating this time, so we arrived in Wanaka very chilly!

Obviously there is some pre-requisite that buses to and from Queenstown have to lack any environmental controls….

Wanaka then. Lake Wanaka is the third largest lake in New Zealand, and surrounded by Mount Aspiring and his little cousins, it is pretty as a picture, literally.

Lake Wanaka

Gavin with his new stick alongside Lake Wanaka.

We decided to dip a toe in the world of YHA and plumped to stay at the Purple Cow Hostel. What a great decision! One of the best hostels we have ever seen. Lovely room, huge kitchen, massive TV room and the best common room ever with this amazing view. 

View from the Purple Cow

View from the Purple Cow

The thing I was most excited about in Wanaka (and in New Zealand (and in the world)) was Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World so that is where we went first, and it did not disappoint. In fact it boggled my tiny mind.

It’s a two-part thing – illusion rooms and a megamaze. The illusion rooms mess with your perceptions. It’s full of wicked holograms and visual tricks like a snooker ball rolling uphill or you in the toilet with Romans. Check out this room – I am huge and the wife is made tiny, like Alice in Wonderland.

And Lord of the Rings.

Yes dear.

And Harry Potter.

Yes dear. The photo please.

Us in Puzzling World illusion rooms

Us in Puzzling World illusion rooms

We also went into this set of rooms where the floor has been tilted to mess with your sense of balance and perception. Erin is sliding uphill on this chair! This water is flowing down! Insania!

Water running uphill as Gavin's mind begins to over-boggle

Water running uphill as Gavin's mind begins to over-boggle

There is also a Great Maze that we attempted.  It was really hard! But we found all four corners eventually.

In the cafe there was puzzles all over the tables. I got very angry with some of these so-called ‘games’ as I really feel they were actually impossible. As my nephew Lewis, would say, there were SO ANNOYING.

That’s right, poppet, you were very upset.

There's obviously some bits missing or something

There's obviously some bits missing or something

However, I had more success with the 3D Noughts and Crosses game against the wife.

You could cut the tension with a knife

You could cut the tension with a knife

I bided my time, I lulled her into a false sense of security, I let her think she was winning and in the last move of the game, with her winning 6-4, I planted my final olive and scored 5 rows in one!!! 6-9!! Woo, in your face, I am the winner. YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!

3D noughts and crosses champion of the world 2011

3D noughts and crosses champion of the world 2011

Okay…….he can get a bit competitive!

YYYYEEEEESSSSSSHHHAHAHA!

There is also a really great cinema in Wanaka, Cinema Paradiso. It is a funky place full of sofas, old airplane seats, even a VW Beetle.

Beer and a sofa in a cinema. Enough to shock anyone.

Beer and a sofa in a cinema. Enough to shock anyone.

They serve homemade cookies and ice cream at the interval.

Screw the Lonely Planet disciples and their cookies, the cinema also sold three amazing local beers from Wanaka Beerworks. Mmm, nice beer.

Gavin and the Brewski

Gavin and the Brewski

We saw the Social Network, which was really good, though quite obviously a sensationalised and very biased account of the facebook genesis. That poor old billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg….

We had also heard about a sculpture park that had been set up near Wanaka, in the Rippon Vineyard. Our hostel said it would take 15 minutes to walk there. 1 hour later we heaved ourselves up the hill to the vineyard! However, it’s all good as this was the view.

The view from Rippon vineyard where the sculptures were

The view from Rippon vineyard where the sculptures were

The sculptures were ok, but against such a backdrop they were a little underwhelming and generic. For a great sculpture experience we would recommend the Sculpture Park at Goodwood back home. Amazing place.

We had a lovely stroll back to town around Lake Wanaka. We stopped for a picnic and a dip in the lake. Brr, pretty freezing.

Lakeside picnic

Lakeside picnic

Speaking of which, the next stop after Wanaka was the village of Franz Josef. We had booked ourselves on a hike up the Franz Josef Glacier with the glacier guide company there. As the day grew nearer I grew more and more scared. Why were we doing this????????

Do me a favour love, I kept saying. How hard can it be? They take tourists up there all the time. I was looking forward to it and a bit of ice-walking. Well, how did it go you might wonder? It was flipping difficult!

So difficult that one person in our party turned back before we even reached the glacier terminal face!!!

Yeah, they don’t even tell you that before you even get near the ice you have to walk across the glacier valley for about 90 minutes, then up a huge, steep hill for 20 minutes, and all the time you’re dressed like a numpty.

Bumbags - it's all about the confidence

Bumbags - it's all about the confidence

Once we had done all that, and I had nearly drank all my water for the day (!! crisis point!!) we had to strap on our crampons. These are the spikes that enable you to walk on the ice without slipping and cracking your head open!

It was pretty hard to walk on the rocks with them on, but once we got to the ice they did the trick.

It took me a while to trust in them and as I gingerly made my way on the first slope, at about one teeny tiny step per minute, our guide obviously clocked me as the weakest link and hauled me across a sheet of ice to lead the group!!!!! WAHHHHHHHH!

Erin being installed as party leader

Erin being installed as party leader

Ha ha!

The cocky fellow, George, turned me as we made our way up some ice steps, “Amazing how being at the front increases your confidence, hey?!” Indeed!

It was pretty amazing being up on the glacier, almost like being on another world.

Like Ice Land in Super Mario Brothers!

Or Planet Krypton from Superman.

Moving up the glacier with the Super Mario music in our heads. Dudududududuh. Dilddlerdu etc

Moving up the glacier with the Super Mario music in our heads. Dudududududuh. Dilddlerdu etc

It was great fun and when I saw a deep hole in the ice I bounded over to George (well, carefully stamped across the ice) and requested to be allowed to get into the hole. He said Yes!

Way down in the hole

Way down in the hole

One of the coolest things that happened whilst we were up was that there were 2 avalanches! A huge rumble started and we all turned to see a massive rock hurtling down the mountain,

Not cool!

Yes cool! It didn’t hit us. Thankfully, the crevasses stop that, but wicked nonetheless.

Gavin and George were the only ones who thought so! There was another one later, that we only heard, didn’t see. It definitely made me scuttle a bit quicker!

We did a lot of ice climbing, navigating ice steps, and even exploring some crevasses. How quality is this?

Gavin deep in the crack

Gavin deep in the crack

We were pretty exhuasted after hiking to the glacier, then around the glacier, and now we then had to hike down the glacier, down the mountain and then back through the valley. I was feeling the burn, man.

Me too. Poor legs! A great experience, but I couldn’t help wondering how many injuries they get on these things. It was pretty tough for a bunch of tourists! We all felt very proud for doing it though and I will never forget it.

We conquered the glacier!

We conquered the glacier!

Another good thing that came out of our glacier experience was free entry to the Glacier Hot Pools in the village. There were three pools, one at 36 degrees, one at 38 degrees and then one was 40 degrees, my favourite.

We would have taken this photo again, but the camera ran out of battery

We would have taken this photo again, but the camera ran out of battery

Very good for soothing the muscles!

A great end to a great day. And I hadn’t even had a Monteiths beer! But that doesn’t matter, because today my friends we catch the bus to Greymouth. Do you know what is in Greymouth? Nothing much really, apart from the Monteiths Brewery! Here I come my beauties!

That’s all for now everyone, speak again if I can ever get my husband out of the brewery!

A pint of Monteiths Radler

A pint of Monteiths Radler

Burp!

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