Wanaka: Tree Magic

Like the Catlins, I initially thought of Wanaka mostly as just a stopping point between Queenstown and our drive over the Haast Pass to start our exploration of the West Coast, but I was once again wrong. The Haast Pass can be dangerous in bad weather, so we were planning to base the length of our stay in Wanaka on the road conditions, skipping it if necessary to get a clear shot at the drive. We ended up staying three days, and found it to be a delightful town.

Our campsite was at the top of a hill overlooking Lake Wanaka. Our first afternoon there, we needed to swing by the grocery store, so we decided we would just walk since it was only a few miles away. The walk downhill on the way there should probably have made us consider our purchases more carefully, but it didn’t sink in that we would be lugging the extra weight back up the hill on the way home. We made it, but I was sucking wind and cursing my insistence that we needed everything from apple juice to canned vegetables by the time we did. IMG_4744IMG_4746Wanaka, like Queenstown, was first settled as part of the local gold rush and is now a popular tourist destination for skiing and outdoors activities. I think it should be known for its marvelous trees!

Check out these giants, including the biggest Douglas Fir I’ve ever seen.IMG_4755IMG_4757IMG_4760IMG_4762IMG_4765IMG_4771This has to be the most photographed tree in New Zealand…IMG_4781And here it is with duckies on it. IMG_4786IMG_4788The view of Mount Aspiring National Park across the lake slowed our walk to the store down considerably. The walking path is covered with lovely trees that I don’t know the names of. Perhaps our arborist brother-in-law can assist?

There is only one grocery store in town, and we ended up getting there around 6 pm, which meant it was absolutely packed with people. It looked like Whole Foods the week of Thanksgiving. Utter madness. We could only move the cart a few feet at a time before having to stop and dodge people. We were both about ready to panic by the time we escaped. Peopley. It was way too peopley in there. IMG_4793IMG_4798IMG_4804IMG_4810It really is a photogenic and remarkable tree, isn’t it? Cynics mock the droves of “photographers” who flock to the lakeshore to capture a picture of it to put on Instagram, but I completely understand why people love it so much. It has managed to flourish in unlikely circumstances, and is all the more beautiful because of it.

Xander had initially recovered from his cold quite quickly, but as we arrived in Wanaka was starting to have a runny nose again and show the early signs of a cough. I was also getting close to my deadline to review my copyedited manuscript and get my final changes back to my publisher, so it was good timing to take it easy. We basically did nothing but rest and keep Xander inside for a few days.

He wasn’t terribly amused at being trapped indoors when all of the birds and trees were outdoors just waiting to be explored, but he did enjoy lots of daddy snuggles and story time. It has been such a joy to watch Xander and Kris become a unit on this trip. He wants to do absolutely everything that Daddy does. He only wants to eat what Kris is eating, and I’m starting to struggle to put him to bed at night if Kris is still up. He used to be all about Mama, but is fast becoming Daddy’s little man. It’s going to be an adjustment when we get home and Kris goes back to work, but it will be worth it for them to have bonded without any of the normal distractions that life at home brings.

By the time we got on the road to drive to Franz Josef, Xander was symptom free and back to his usual exuberant self again. I’m grateful that our trip was long enough to adjust as needed for situations like this. We can let him dictate the pace to keep everyone happy, healthy, and relaxed.

The up to date list of New Zealand Adventure posts is here.

6 thoughts on “Wanaka: Tree Magic

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