And so off to Wanaka we go today. We slept in courtesy of a very dark room with the most amazingly comfortable king bed - yes, almost needed that map again! Finally we get away a bit before 9:30 for the 50 odd minute driv
e back over the Range. Of course, the morning light brings a very different landscape to what we saw last night and as we pull in to the lookout, half of all the tourists in NZ seem to be there as well.
Michael manages to get this great panorama photo with his phone. Everyone is excited to see the snow which
hardly ever falls in summer.
We see a number of cyclists at this lookout. I ask one if they ride it often and he tells me it is a first for him, from Australia. I thought that it was only mad dogs and Englishmen - guess not! At this point, they are probably about 20% of the way up! Crazy people!!
And so to Wanaka. As I really have no interest in the flying machines, I opt to be the
"Flying a good airplane doesn't require near as much attention as a motor car." - Charles Lindbergh
The 'Warbirds and Wheels Museum' at Wanaka is a must whether you're smitten with or have an acquired cynicism towards modern transport. This museum is not just about aviation, it is a testament to the evolution of the modern motor car as well.
It is not a large museum but the exhibits which are displayed are of a restored quality. I was pleased with what I saw as there were two of my favourite aircraft on display, the Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a (WW1) and the superlative Hawker Hurricane (WW2).I drooled with awe at the other exhibits as well. As with the automobiles, I was thrilled to find a 1924 Rickenbacker Roadster and a 1938 Packard convertible.
I returned to the cafeteria and found my Maria at a table reading a tourist guide.
"You've finished?" she asked (Stupid question!)
"Not yet." I replied
So I sourced some lunch ate it and returned to the inner sanctum. Well, after having my fill of exhibits (sort of), I met Maria at the car to head off for Veronica Lake....hang about...Lake Wanaka!
When Michael is done, we drive a few hundred metres back down the road to the Toy and Transport Museum where I deposit Michael before I head off to the Wanaka Lavender Farm. After a wander in the garden and a browse in the shop, I settle down for another pot of peppermint tea and a lavender biscuit, while reading Lavender and Old Lace that was serendipitously found on the table I chose to sit at!
"I'm not a builder of buildings. I'm a builder of collections." - Leonard Lauder
Now, this museum is in complete contrast to the former. It is not pristine or clinical, it is a mass collection dedicated to childhood, aviation, motor transport, fire fighting and military. Encompassing four hangers and each structure dedicated to a particular genre.
The toy exhibits are masterful, and displaying a Meccano section for which to die for. You can keep Lego. Transport is represented by a myriad of automobiles,trucks of all forms. Aircraft types exhibited from a 1934 Astor through to a 1969 MiG 10 - modern by no means, but a couple of rare types. Military exhibits in the form of a 1916 WW1 French Renault tank through to Mark V British Centurion tank. It isn't the most clinical of museums, however, there is a definite passion. The only other museum I can make a comparison with is the Auto and Technik Museum Sinsheim in southern Germany.
With Michael full of his childhood reminiscing, we head back into Wanaka to take in the views of the lake and have a wander through the town. Money here. Lots of it. The properties are pristine with beautifully manicured lawns and gardens. The lake is stunning on this later summer afternoon and we decide on the spur of the moment to take a tour on it on the MV Dual Image of the Lakeland Adventures Wanaka. All six of us - hang on here come another two people running up the beach.
Our captain Adam and the aide Rakesh are informative and friendly and with such a small group we get very personalised attention. The trip is a little choppy as the wind is starting to pick up, but nothing that even I can't handle. Remind me to tell you the story of how Ruby Island got its name when we get home. Suffice to say, it involves prohibition, sly grog on a bar on an island and a dancing girl in a town where the local policeman didn't have a boat!
If you are looking for accommodation in Arrowtown, or somewhere within striking distance of Wanaka and Queenstown, lookup Scooter and Grant on airbnb.