Lou was still rather comatose when I woke up at 7:30. The effects of multiple Tuis required a trip to a lavatory… one of the moments when I wished we’d forked out the extra for a van with an on-board toilet! I got dressed and discovered we were parked less than 100 yards from a McDonalds that opened early. Good fortune!
I made use of the facilites again at 8:50 when the alarm went off while Lou refused to acknowledge the fact that it was daylight. I raided her purse and changed her $US into $NZ (she’d been paid in Yankee Dollars for the job she did) and drove us back to the shopping centre we’d visited yesterday. Lou surfaced when we got there and necked some tea to get the wake-up glands pumping.
Our next scheduled stop was Lake Tekapo, a good few hours’ drive to the south. The roads were clear, so off we went. Our companion on the trip was a radio station called The Rock. Now, unlike the Metro group back home who named one of their stations similarly because it was located in Blackpool, this one’s monikered after the music it plays. I cannot explain how great it is to hear old Metallica, Linkin Park, Radiohead’s uncensored Creep and so on during daylight hours. I want to pick this station up and take it home with me, set it loose and let it kill off all the pants-awful garbage we have to put up with on the airwaves in the UK.
As we got nearer, the conditions took a slight turn for the worse and the conditions weren’t as ideal as I’d have liked. Still, it was only a little slushy and cleared up again before we reached Tekapo.
We pulled up into a campervan park right next to the lake with a spectacular view. Unfortunately, the ground in the park was too wet and boggy for us to park up and use it for the night.
To make matters worse, The Rock had faded from the radio as we were out of range and in amongst all these silly mountains. Gah.
The campsite owner recommended we turn back to Fairley, or go ahead as far as Twizel. The thing is, there’s nothing at either of these places so we opted to gamble and head for Lake Wanaka. It was maybe another 3 hours’ drive, but we should just about make it by sundown, or not long after. Assuming the predicted snow didn’t come thudding down around our ears.
The weather was kind to us. Wanaka Rocks took over on our radio (not just one, but two superb stations in one country!) and we arrived in Wanaka with a fistful of beautiful photographs about 30 minutes after the sun disappeared. Wanaka Rocks differs from The Rock in a few regards. It plays “radio friendly” versions of songs, is biased more towards Metallica than Nirvana, has no adverts and no DJs. The only times you hear a human voice are during the little pre-recorded “stabs” that tell you what station you’re listening to and on the rare news bulletins. Music’s great, though.
There were a few van parks to pick from and we selected one at the far end of the town, a short walk back in. Like them all, it had all the facilities we needed and was probably the cheapest at $12 per person per night. We settled in and had some cracking bangers and mash for dinner before popping out to check email at prices roughly three times what we’d become used to in Auckland.