Bloody hell that was a cold night! There was a frost on the ground come morning and we were glad of the extra blankets that were in the van. I set about checking out the onboard heater but realised that it runs off diesel and requires at least 1/4 tank to work and we were close to empty (we’d planned to fill up on the way out of town the next day!). I had a eureka moment in the shower and once we were up, I found a little electrical store not far away so drove round and purchased a small electric fan heater for $30. When we’re staying in campsites, we are paying for the electricity so it seems reasonable to maximise it! No more getting cold for us and Laura is noticeably happier – I don’t think she enjoyed sleeping in socks and about three layers!
The previous day, Laura had spotted a short walk that looked nice, that started a short drive outside of Wanaka so we headed up and parked the van next to the Diamond Lake Track. The sign said it was a 7km, 2h30 – 3hrs and 400m ascent, with a few optional offshoots to Wanaka Lookout and the Rocky Mountain. We set off and very quickly reached the Diamond Lake, which I have to say was underwhelming, but I was certain that as we climbed Rocky Mountain to the Lake view lookout, it would reveal itself to be quite stunning. It wasn’t! The lake wasn’t shaped like a diamond, it didn’t sparkle…was just a bit, well small and pond-like.
Still, further up the trail, we took the offshoot to the Lake Wanaka Lookout and got rewarded with a stunning view and a conveniently placed bench. We both sat, munching a croissant with some jam and soaked up the morning sun, before being interrupted by a girl who sounded like she was dying, having run up the trail, shortly followed by her other half who barely looked out of breath. Fair play to them, I was out of breath walking up!
Back on the Rocky Mountain trail and we soon learnt a valuable lesson. Sometimes the guidebooks can be a little misleading, so we’d read “gentle walk, with some slippery sections during winter”, what we found was a sketchy ‘goat’ track the width of Laura’s feet side by side and a sheer drop…..not feeling too confident, Laura turned to me and suggested we head back as she didn’t feel too ‘Goat-like’ today.
There was another trail that took us a bit further up before heading back towards the van and lunch which takes me to:
Van Life No.3 – Your kitchen is with you all the time.
We sat and ate a beautiful chicken stir-fry having just been on a hike and cold drinks straight from the fridge without having to move anywhere. Whilst doing this we did notice the couple next to us, which leads to:
Van Life No.4 – Not all vans are created equally.
Not wanting to boast, but ours is a big motorhome. I can stand up inside it easily, it has hot and cold running water, a shower, toilet, fridge/freezer, fixed hob, grill and sink. It really is a home. The couple next to us, had a little van – no standing up and to get anything out, they virtually had to empty it. To cook meant sticking the stove outside etc. Ok for a couple of days maybe. The hardcore #vanlife’rs would say we’re not doing it properly….fair enough, I’ll let you have that as you sit outside in the rain trying to cook your one-pot meal on a single gas burner whilst the rest of your stuff gets wet. 😉
After watching them pack, un-pack and re-pack their van multiple times in order to make a coffee. We left to head back into Wanaka in search of the ‘Instafamous’ Wanaka Tree. This lonely little tree sits on the lake and at high tide, it appears to be ‘floating’ mysteriously on the water. Getting there at low tide, its just a tree sat in the mud, looking a bit dejected, but joking aside, it is still a beautiful view, and we couldn’t help get a couple of photos, whilst elbowing the bizarre oriental bridal photo shoot people out of the way, and as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up we remembered that a storm was forecast for tomorrow.
We remembered the waterproofs before walking to the independently run Cinema Paradiso for the evening showing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. The two screen cinema immediately promotes an intimate, family feel and with it’s little cafe decorated in a retro chic way and board games to play whilst you wait for the film, it feels like this is how I want every future Cinema experience to be.
Walking into Screen 1, you are greeted by rows of sofas, traditional cinema seats and some 1950s cars, converted to allow you to get that ‘real’ drive-in experience! It’s amazing, and to top it off the owner bakes cookies for the half time interval, at the end of which, he checked everyone was back in the seats and that we were all warm enough before starting the 2nd half of the movie. It was lovely.
Strolling back to the van, the temperature wasn’t as cold as the previous night and there was no sign of rain. Maybe we’d escape the storm after all.