Today we left Franz Josef around 10 AM and took a 5 hour bus ride to Wanaka. When we left Franz Josef, the weather was awful and grey, and it was raining pretty hard. Before we left the hostel, I traded “Mansfield Park” for a P.D. James novel, which I think is a great improvement since Mansfield Park was pretty boring and I love murder mysteries!
As soon as we left the valley, the sky cleared up a bit and the bus ride was GORGEOUS. The traveling itself is worth the trip to New Zealand – just sitting on the bus and watching the beautiful scenery constantly takes my breath away. We saw waterfalls every 10 or 15 minutes, beautiful snow-capped mountains, and several gorgeous lakes. I never expected New Zealand to be so lush and green. It’s such a stark contrast between the relatively warm air and the forests to see a layer of snow directly located above the treeline.
The lakes themselves are incredibly blue, and we passed several as we journeyed. Lake Hawea was stunning and everyone in the bus was pressed against the windows, taking photos and gasping. It was just too pretty!! The sky had lots of dappled clouds and we had intermittent rain.
The most surprising part of our bus rides so far has been the comfort level! They stop every hour or so to give us a bathroom break and let us stretch our legs – it’s the first time I’ve ever been on a bus that was designed for actual people. This bus ride had a lunch break around noon and I got a delicious salmon sandwich from a salmon farm! SO TASTY. And we stopped several other times, once just because our driver wanted us to see a waterfall and rushing river. It’s so convenient and very comfortable. I love everything about New Zealand.
A photo of the salmon farm, set among gorgeous mountains:
Wanaka itself is gorgeous! It’s a ski town and the people are very friendly (per usual) and chill.
View from our hostel’s kitchen deck:
Dinner – it cost us $10 per person and was DELICIOUS!!! Food here is a bit expensive so it makes a lot of sense to cook for ourselves. We got a roasted chicken, tomato soup, cheese, salad, carrots, and soda. Perfection!
There was some debate earlier about whether we should stay in Wanaka for two nights as planned, or if we should try to leave a day earlier and give ourselves more chances to skydive in Queenstown. Caitlin is leaving earlier than KL, Erikka, and I, so she would only have one day to skydive and that’s very weather-dependent so it was a bit risky. Luckily, Wanaka has skydiving available and it’s apparently one of the two best places in the world (or at least New Zealand) to skydive. The best place in the world is supposedly Franz Josef, the town we just left, but they don’t have any commercial skydiving available right now, so Wanaka is basically as good as it gets. In the world. And we’re here! And we have time! So tomorrow we’re going to jump from 12,000 feet. I’m going to get photos and a DVD made I think, so look for those!! AHHHHHHHHHH UNREAL!!! Tonight we’re going to try to find a pub near our hostel and watch a rugby game! Good fun had by all!