Wednesday, May 31, 2017


In 2013, Glenorchy's population was 363 souls. For a place so tiny, we were delighted to locate a few airbnb rentals. There is no electric camping here right now, so we reserved a few nights at a small cottage, though truth be known (all together now) we'd rather be camping.

The first European settlers arrived at the Head of the Lake probably in late 1861. They were shepherds working for William Rees who had taken a lease on all the land at the Head of Lake Wakatipu, east of the Dart River.

We were tired when we pulled in last night and Art pondered backing up this winding driveway but didn't, which meant he had to back the camper down the winding drive today, no easy feat, but done.

I found a new haloumi made by small-batch NZ cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese Co.

This shot's especially for Carly, who shares our love of fried cheese, here for breakfast with a big salad and some buttered organic kumara to keep us moving on our eight miles of walking today.

We walked to the wharf as the clouds started to clear, except for one long low bank.

There are jet boats to take you across the top of the lake for a modest sum, but the proprietor of a local cafe told us the lake was so low it was two meters (six feet) from water to dock on the other side of the lake and suggested we drive if possible.

Head of the Lake Community Church (Mission Hall)

I don't see my denomination on the list so I guess it gets me out of one more Sunday (and counting).

Here's the wee Glenorchy library, founded 1891.

Librarian Brooke: these hours (one per week) would be perfect...

Someone's having wedding pictures taken at the iconic town building.

This friendly cafe woman also owns Kinloch Lodge on the other side of Lake Wakatipu. We did not ask her to cut that gorgeous carrot cake.

Time for a stretch-out walk along the lagoon, sunny now and warm. That cloud on the lake is persistent.

Mrs Woolly's General Store ("gelato, organic produce, and high-quality giftware") is closed for the season, but the book exchange appears to be thriving. The lamb upper right is reading "War and Fleece."

The all-day cloud was low enough to permit some porch-sitting in the sun when we returned, and soon our bellies were grumbling. Long time since breakfast.

Dinner in town: shared fish n chips + burger

Tomorrow we're going to drive around the top of the lake to Kinloch Lodge (click here to view map if reading in email) and do some exploring from there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

To Glenorchy NZ

Tired, campers. We packed up and drove today from Wanaka to Glenorchy, via Cromwell and Queenstown, the final 45-minute approach to Glenorchy--spectacular on a sunny day--shrouded in rain (click here to view map if reading in email).

In honor of sunnier days and the extraordinary landscape to come, I'm re-posting below the grand horse-riding adventure my sister Holly and I had in Glenorchy in late July, 2015.

A Horsey Afternoon In Glenorchy

Holly and I are posting today about our big-fun horse ride with Dart Stables in Glenorchy. Like other parts of the family trip, the ride to our destination (about 40 minutes north of Queenstown) was jaw-droppingly beautiful. According to my research,  it's known as one of the top eight scenic drives in the world.

Here's Graham Barker's photo of the road...
And some out-the-bus pix we shot on the road north.  

Gearing up. Dart Stables, which ran an excellent operation, provides helmets, rubber boots (it was muddy walking in the paddock when we got off the horses), and oilskin coats (I kept my own coat on).

Though I'm sort of sorry I did. Holly's got that official rider look going on.
The horses await, assigned to us based on our previous riding experience. I scanned the line-up, wondering to myself why white horses always interested me the least.

Coincidence or destiny? My horse Sterling, who preferred to have every last millimeter of the reins free. If I lifted so much as half an inch, he'd throw his head back in disagreement. I relinquished control right about then and gave him all he wanted.
We took the River Wild tour, a two-hour walk (and occasional trot) through magnificent landscape. There's Sterling, fully in charge as we prepare to cross the river.

Holly thought it was challenging to go through streams and rivers because it felt like the horse was sinking in. I was more troubled by Sterling tripping three times on dry land because it felt like he was trying to throw me off. Our helpful guide disabused me of the notion.

Every so often I'd twist around to try for a shot of Holly behind me. She's on the fastest horse but last in line.

The horses took us to remote landscapes that were utterly quiet and peaceful. The guides told some memorable stories. One of the horses in our group, Trevor, appeared in one of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy films.

Here's why: the production team had imported a bunch of very large horses from Australia for one particular scene in which the lot of them would stampede across a river.
But the Australian horses, accustomed to the heat of their home country, found the rivers cold and would stop dead in their tracks before crossing. The film crew called Dart Stables for help in the form of Trevor, fearless river-crosser. They put him in front, said go, and the others followed. Our guide told us there's a frame and a half in the film where Trevor, a far smaller horse, can be seen leading the larger pack across the water.

We pause so our friendly guide (there are three for our group) can make portraits. I feel like Barney Fife, my helmet drooping over my eyes as I sit on Sterling, a small horse. Holly, on the other hand, looks like a Chicago cop on horse patrol. Is it the coat or her bad attitude?

My too-large helmet featured in what might have been a video keeper if anyone had been filming. Our guide asked us if we wanted to try trotting and we agreed, so she walked us through proper form, which involved grabbing a big bunch of horse mane with the same hand holding the reins.

Then she started the horses in a trot. Immediately my helmet slipped down over my eyes, blinding me, and my necklaced Nikon with every step banged me in the chin. "Stand up! Bum back! Lean forward!" our guide called out. I nearly fell off the horse I was laughing so hard.
Holly, equestrian extraordinaire

A day that will live in memory.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rita's Homemade Yurt + Pancake Party At Glendhu Bay

After a frosty night, an impossibly blue sky.

Yesterday we had a tour of the yurt positioned near us in the campground. Lovely Rita, from the South Island's west coast, and her father made it themselves (!). It sits on a trailer bed and can be collapsed and driven to the next location, handy for Rita who works at the ski fields.

Inside is everything you might need--bed, kitchen, lounging area. A lot of space.

A welded plate at the top accepts the numerous hand-skinned stays.

It's more beautiful than my pictures show.

And Rita also has our view. In this shot, the clear plastic is peeled away on the outside to let fresh air.

Our camping pals Hannah and Logan joined us here at Glendhu Bay and this afternoon they hosted a pancake party during the last long hour of sun.

That's their cute rig at left.

The chef making magic in her wee kitchen

Buckwheat pancakes with coconut yogurt, bananas, manuka honey, and blueberries, oh my. T'was a real treat.

We'll miss these two when we head out tomorrow for Glenorchy (we think), but NZ is a neighborhood and we're sure our paths will cross again.